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Tormented by Her Mother-in-law

Updated on October 14, 2018
DDE profile image

Devika enjoys sharing her work with a friendly community. Writing is a big part of her life. Online work has improved her lifestyle.

Family issues

She looked up in horror as the older woman rubbed the bleached-soaked cloth roughly over her face.

''This will make your skin whiter and make you look better, ‘she said harshly, grinding in the bleach. The pain was unbearable, the smell overwhelming.

''Please,'' the girl begged, ''wash it off, it is burning me. Help me, help me!''

The old woman ignored her cries. ''You must wait,'' she muttered, enjoying every second of the girl's discomfort.

The old woman may sound like an evil witch from a fairy tale but for this Indian woman just married into the family she could not have been more real.

The incident was the final straw for this young woman; she could not take this anymore, who had suffered in her disastrous marriage almost from the second she had taken her vows.

Living in London, and the first woman to sue her mother-in-law, under the Harassment Act.

Instead, the emotional and physical torment she had endured took her to the brink of a nervous breakdown.

It is customary in her deeply religious culture, the attractive, petite woman with a man who had been brought to her father's attention by a matchmaker.

''The first time the whole family sat in as we chatted about things such as work, and travel but we also got to talk alone for an hour.''

''I really liked him and thought it could work.''

By the time her wedding day had arrived, the naive twenty two year old who had never even been on a date before, had no idea what she was getting herself into at that point.

Yet, she threw herself into the week-long celebrations with joy and enthusiasm falsely.

The couple exchanged vows in an Indian temple in front of two hundred people. Reena was taken to her husband's four-bedroom home, in their London home to start their new life.

Things went wrong from the start of their introduction, Her mother-in-law Bilkies, told her not to bother unpacking as he would not need her Western clothing.

Instead, she was given traditional Indian clothing of loose trousers and a matching top, exactly the same as her mother-in-law's outfit.

Reena didn’t want to show disrespect for her new family so she took the clothes.

She hoped the two of them would later bond but it wasn't to be.

The young woman soon realized she was nothing more than a modern-day Cinderella without the fairy godmother to help her escape the nightmare.

Speaking as she would be to a domestic servant. Bilkies, the mother-in-law instructed her daughter-in-law to follow a strict regime allowing her an only a half-hour break.

Mother-in-law Issues

Mother-in-law Issues

Horrific conflicts

Reena was too embarrassed to contact her own family she felt it would mean she was a failure as a wife.

The harder the daughter-in-law slaved the more her mother-in-law found work for her to do. Soon she was working seventeen hours daily.

She had wash and iron all the towels everyday polish her father-in-law's shoes and make, serve, and clear all the family's meals.

At the end of the day she was exhausted. As she toiled her mother-in-law dozed, occasionally walking to check on her and give her more to do.

Reena was forbidden to leave the house and could call her parents only once a week as her cell phone had been confiscated.

She wasn't allowed to attend her uncle’s funeral which devastated her. Television and newspapers were banned so she had no contact with the outside world and did not even know the Iraqi war had started.

Eventually the she shattered young woman her hands infected by cleaning agents was so tired she fell asleep at the kitchen table. Her mother-in-law woke her roughly, screaming at her to carry on.

She then bought the energy drink Red Bull and insisted Reena drink it in order to keep working.

Still Dina did nothing about the abuse of his wife from his mother, even when his mother's abuse started to affect his wife's physical appearance and Reena was forced to cut and color her beautiful, floor-length hair.

She had never cut her hair before because of her religion. Bilkies, the mother-in-law took her to a hairdresser and motioned she wanted it cut to collar length.

As she saw her hair fall to the floor it made her feel degraded and like a Zombie.

Her humiliation did not end there. Next her mother-in-law bought red hair dye and covered her head in it, telling her she would look much nicer if they both had hair of the same color. Then she applied the horrific bleaching incident.

''I don't like the color of your skin,'' her mother-in-law told her.

''You will look much nicer if it paler.''

The pain was excruciating and left Reena's skin red and raw but Bilkies the mother-in-law refused to give in to her daughter-in-law's cries.

Eventually what seemed like an eternity, the screaming was so loud the mother-in-law relented and held Reena's face under the tap.

Reena knew she looked awful but did not have the energy to care. When her husband and his brothers came home they laughed and called her Reena a poodle.

Their ridicule finally made her crack and she ran to her room in tears, telling her husband she could no longer live in that house and wanted a divorce.

Happy she had finally achieved her goal the mother-in-law wasted no time and telephoned Reena's parents, telling them to fetch their daughter. As is customary in the Sikh Tradition no questions were asked.

Reena was ashamed their marriage had failed she felt so utterly broken but at the same time so relieved. She did not go back and they divorced a year later. The devastation was to remain with Reena for the next two years.

She was constantly depressed and could not work. Her only salvation came when her divorce lawyer suggested suing Bilkies the mother-in-law for harassment to at least allow her to move on with her life.

Reena was awarded thirty five thousand pounds but insisted it was not about the money.

She felt a sense of justice; Reena was treated as an incomprehensible attack, and endured four months of hell.

Her husband never stood by her during this ordeal.

Abusive Marriages

She had to mop the floor, but was not allowed to use a bucket she had to wet the bedraggled mop, which had only a few strands, from a tap.

To clean the toilet she was provided with just one glove and an old rag instead of a brush. Her mother-in-laws stood over her, insisting she stick her hand down the bowl.

Reena confided in her husband, telling him how unhappy she was, but her words fell on deaf ears.

He was simply to scared to stand up to his mother and end his wife's abuse, and just began her life of hell.

At first, poor Reena was caught up in the traditional belief that the mother-in-law is always at the top and the daughter-in-aw at the bottom and felt she had to accept her situation.

The Bullying Mother-in-law

Were you Tormented by your Mother-in-law?

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© 2013 Devika Primić


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      ...Bang bang, he shot me downBang bang, I hit the groundBang bang, that awful soundBang bang, my baby shot me down.I know this is not the place for kaorake, but when I saw those shoes and someone here mentioned Cher, I just couldn't resist..

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      moonlake thanks for the vote up and in sharing your part here so glad you cams by

    • moonlake profile image


      5 years ago from America

      My mother-in-law is long gone now she was always good to me. She had a mother-in-law that took her only daughter and she let her. I ask her one day why she didn't fight for her child. She said her husband was on his mom's side and she just didn't have it in her to fight both of them. The mother-in-law's reason for taking the girl, because her daugther-in-law had her hands full with 4 boys.

      Interesting hub. Voted up.

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      TIMETRAVELER2 thanks for the vote up and comment

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      5 years ago from USA

      This is a horrible story but one that needed to be told. I don't know how anybody could be so cruel. Well done and voted up.

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      CrisSp thanks for the vote up here and for commenting it is sad for Mother-in-laws to behave in such a manner in the time of today.

    • CrisSp profile image


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Oh goodness! What a story to tell! I'm grateful that my mother-in-law is such a darling and I never have any problem with her neither with my late father-in-law. Sadly, stories like this still exists in what we thought should be a civilized world.

      Thank you. Voting up here.

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi FlourishAnyway problems with Mother-in-laws are so common but also can so traditional thanks for sharing your experience here so glad you could come by

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Wow oh wow. Compared to this I did not have any issues with my mother-in-law. She merely told me and everyone else how much older I looked than her son (we are the same age) and would buy me clothes that were too large saying I'd grow into them, as we all do ya know. She passed away and it is very unfortunate. It ended problems between my husband and I where she was concerned, however.

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Eiddwen thanks for all votes up and shared and for a kind comment

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hello CraftytotheCore ths sounds awful and I feel for your experience so sad to think of how some MIL can still be in this day and age, depending on cultures and education they can be good or horrible, and even merciless. I once read a MIL neglected her daughter-in-law for not having a son instead she had a baby girl, it was the most horrific read it is so difficult to understand such issues. Thanks for opening up here and sharing what you had on your mind concerning this topic I am pleased to hear more about MIL

    • Eiddwen profile image


      5 years ago from Wales

      Another great hub by you DDE.

      Voted up and shared.


    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      5 years ago

      This brings back very painful memories. I'm American and married a man from a foreign country who was an American citizen. All was well, I thought I had finally found true love. He took me to visit his parents. They were lovely people. His father, a retired politician from a foreign country.

      Because they lived in another state, I had no idea what I was headed in for. Within days before the marriage, they came to stay with us for a month (during our honeymoon). It was awkward to say the least and I didn't understand why they would decide to do that at that time in our lives.

      My ex MIL bleached my clothes, stole my jewelry, and did some pretty horrific stuff. I also thought she had poisoned our elderly beagle, but couldn't prove anything. So, my ex told me to get over myself and she was going to be gone in a month anyway.

      When I was pregnant with my first child, the now ex MIL came back to live with us. I had no say in it. I was very ill and was on leave from work. She physically pushed me a couple of times. I fell back in to the chair once and couldn't get back up because of my swollen feet.

      She often treated me like a dog. Telling me I couldn't eat at the dinner table with the family. She also treated me like a second-class citizen. She was a pure matriarch.

      She decided to leave early after my first child was born. She stood in front of me while I was holding my beautiful newborn daughter and instead of thanking me for giving her a grandchild, she berated me and told me a few choice words to describe what she thought of me.

      I thought the nightmare was over. She went back home thousands of miles a way. But then I got pregnant with my son. She booked a trip to come back. This time, I couldn't take it any more. I went to marriage therapy. The therapist was a man and sided with my now ex not understanding the situation. So, that time I told my now ex that she was to stay in a hotel, not in my home. She never came back after that. She also came over to my house and packed a suitcase right out of my son's closet to take back with her. She told me that my son had too much and she knew of other children that could use some stuff. My son actually had very little to begin with because I never had a baby shower for him. So the only stuff I had for him were yellow sleeper hand-me-downs from my daughter, and a blanket that was handmade as a gift. I had to go buy a whole new wardrobe afterward to replace everything my now ex MIL stole from my newborn son! If that's not disgraceful, I don't know what else to say.

      Ultimately, the marriage ended in divorce. While I am happily re-married now, my ex MIL lives thousands of miles away. Never sends a card or a care to my children, her only grandchildren.

      It's a painful memory but one I think is important to tell about. In this day and age, it's hard to imagine it goes on. But it does. Sadly.

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      thumbi7 you are so right the educated mothers are accepting their daughter-in-laws in much more pleasant way.Thanks for commenting

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      5 years ago from India

      Many a times we hear stories about mother in law and daughter in law not getting along well. Of late we see that educated mothers are better in laws because they can accept the girls into the family fully.

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      rasta1 thanks for sharing your views here and I so agree with you.

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I too think the young woman could have escaped but instead stayed and went through all this bad experience considering where she lived, well said sheilamyers I totally agree with you. Thanks for shairng this comment.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I really don't understand the gist of this one. No, I don't think anyone should have to put up with any of the things you mentioned. Seeing how the woman lived in England, she could've simply chosen to leave (unless they had her locked in somehow) and would've been protected from further harm by the laws. Or am I wrong on that part?

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 

      5 years ago from Jamaica

      Mother-in-Laws are intimidating because of the influence they weave over their children. I assume it is very hard for mothers to let go of their children.

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi sallybea such situations happen in traditional Indian marriages and believe it or not it still happens in the Indian culture. The problem is most of the older generation haven't moved on to a westernized life. So nice of you to come by and share your views here. thanks very much.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      5 years ago from Norfolk

      DDE I shudder to think that things like this still continue to this day. Perhaps education is the key to most things - knowing your rights and those of the country in which we live should be taught in schools to prevent things like this happening.

      Hard to believe that a man would allow his mother to control things to this extent in his own home!

    • DDE profile imageAUTHOR

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Good Morning billybuc thanks for all comments I so appreciate you stopping by

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I never had problems with a mother-in-law but I have heard horror stories from friends. It is a shame that those things happen and tear a family apart. Interesting read from you this morning. Well done!


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