Your wedding day is meant to be where the fairy tale begins. For some, it is the beginning of a nightmare. For too many forced into arranged marriages, the nightmare has already begun.
Arranged marriages are common in many cultures, yet most of those involved are unwilling participants in a game of power, one-upmanship, and positioning between two families. Many result in marriages that are loveless, soulless, and worst of all, abusive.
Sandy Maeck was forced into an arranged marriage. It involved domestic violence and abuse. It made her find the resilience inside her. It led to her writing a book, The Unwanted Wife, that unveils one of the world’s horrible secrets. Behind closed doors in too many homes, tyranny, fear, threats, control, manipulation, physical and emotional pain exist.
“I was living in Guyana when my husband came over to force me into an arranged marriage. I moved to Canada when I married him. I was sponsored by him, which he held over my head the whole time I was with him,” Maeck recalls.
“I was eighteen and had three children in six years, had no family or friends in Canada and no one I could turn to, to help me escape my husband’s abuse. Eventually, I escaped because the police took me out of the home because of illegal activities that were going on in the house as well as my ex-husband’s brutal violence and abuse.”
Maeck found a new life and a new marriage but the scars from years of abuse remained within her. She wrote The Unwanted Wife from notes she made as a form of self-therapy.
“I always lacked belief and confidence in myself. Experiencing domestic abuse and sexual abuse crippled my self-confidence, and I spent years trying to rebuild it.”Sandy Maeck
It tells the story of a young bride’s journey from a life made of fear, sexual abuse, terror, anxiety and unspeakable situations, and how she used the power of positivity to make life changing decisions that led to her strength and endurance. It is not biographical. In Maeck’s story, the young woman leaves Guyana to come to Canada to a family she does not know, to a man she does not know or love. It tells how she adapts to a whole new life; how she survives for the sake of her children and how she is able to find true love.
“I started writing notes, not a book, for my own therapy,” Maeck explains. “Eventually, as I shared my story with women, I was encouraged to write a book. I decided to do this after finding true love and meeting a wonderful man. I never wanted to write the book before that but, in my heart, I knew that I would have a happy ending and I would be able to share my story with other women who are survivors of domestic violence as well.”
She wanted to be an advocate for other women to help stop domestic violence and abuse. She wanted to encourage other women in similar situations to share their stories, and tell them that it is okay to talk about it. “The subject of domestic abuse and abuse is still taboo in too many communities. Women are ashamed, embarrassed, and scared to speak out. I am hoping that I can help and encourage them to break free from unhealthy relationships and to give a voice to the voiceless,” she adds.
The “book as therapy” idea worked well for Maeck. She was able to release years of pent-up pain and struggle and she gained something else, something very valuable for an ex-victim. “The Book strengthened my self-belief,” she says.
“I always lacked belief and confidence in myself. Experiencing domestic abuse and sexual abuse crippled my self-confidence, and I spent years trying to rebuild it.”
“When I started to write, I was riddled with doubt. But I still chose to show up and kept writing. It helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my life. It helped me understand the importance of awareness of domestic violence and abuse and to confront my deepest fears, anxiety, and self-doubt. Now I have chosen a new career path, I am now coaching survivors of domestic violence and abuse; and working on hosting retreats for survivors. I am now changing other people’s lives too.”
It took a lot of determination to turn her notes into a novel. Maeck knew nothing about publishing before this book until she discovered a company called 48 Hour Author on Facebook. “After my first chat I knew they were going to be my publisher. The trust was already there in the first session. They guided my writing, taught me about publishing. They even found me a printer in the U.S. when I moved the date for my book launch. The support team stayed up until 2 a.m. to do that. Then I just quit my job and they gave me financial assistance in the form of a payment plan,” she recalls.
The Unwanted Wife has shown Maeck that domestic abuse doesn’t have to destroy people’s dreams. They can escape and build new ones.
by Natasa Denman — Melbourne, Australia
She is the Founder, Creator & CEO of Ultimate 48 Hour Author & Ultimate World Publishing | Facebook