I’m in my last year of uni and dreading going back home in the summer. The only reason my parents allowed me to go to uni away from home was on the condition that I get married after I graduate. I agreed because I wanted to live away from home so much, but now, three years later, I have a great boyfriend and can’t imagine marrying a stranger.

My parents don’t know about my boyfriend, Paul, and would be furious if they did. He’s been really supportive but he can’t understand why my family are like this. My parents keep calling me, telling me about the boys they have seen, which ones they like, which ones they don’t like. I keep quiet because I don’t know what to say. I think they might suspect that I don’t want to get married because they keep telling me that it would be shameful not to marry at my age, that the whole family would reject me.

Last week, after speaking to my parents I called Nightline. I felt so powerless, I was really low. I spoke to a nice girl who referred me to a domestic violence charity. I was worried at first, because my parents have never hit me and I didn’t want to get them into trouble. But she reassured me that the charity could give me advice and that I didn’t have to tell them anything I didn’t want to.

I went and spoke to a worker at the charity and she understood my background. It was good to talk to someone who didn’t ask me why my family were like this, someone who just listened and accepted my situation for what it was. With advice and support from the charity, I am preparing to tell my family about Paul, and that I don’t want to get married yet. I don’t know what will happen, but the charity has told me all about who to contact if I need help at any time.

I’m still dreading going home but I feel like I’m in control of my future.

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