Humans Of Courage – Mỹ Hà

“My husband told me that he would slit my throat if I dare take our children away.

When my second son turned 16 months, he beat me up severely. The night before that, I had to leave my two children with chickpox fussing around at home, to look for him in the middle of his night gambling. The next afternoon, he was furious and rushed out to punch, slap, and kick me. I was knocked out on the floor. Every time I tried to stand up, he kicked me and I fell over again. It was repeated until I finally crawled to the front yard, where our neighbours ran over to intervene as they heard the screaming, and eventually took me to the hospital.

Over the five years of our marriage, I tried to kill myself once when I was expecting with my daughter, and tried to flee home with her when I was four months pregnant with my son. Yet every single time families and relatives from both sides, my mom and my dad included, talked me into letting it go. They thought that such clashes were normal and expected to happen between any married couple and that I should not have made such a big deal out of it. Just one month before the beating, we had already submitted to the court our request for divorce but eventually, some commune officials came to “help reconcile” us. They told me to think of our children and of our family honour to put things aside and give my husband a chance. Also, I was told the court would usually grant each of the parents custody of one child, and I did not want to be separated from any of my children so I conceded.

I suffered multiple injuries from the beating and was bed-ridden for one week. My son was only 16 months at the time, and he did not witness his mother being hit, but for the whole week, he would not let his father touch him. He just sat next to me and refused to let anyone carry him out of my sight. My daughter was 4 years old then and until now she can still recall vividly how it happened.

That was the last time that I got beaten by my husband. I decided to plan an escape. To the Central Highland province of Dak Lak it would be. First, I sent all my identity documents by post to my friend’s, then I asked one of our neighbours – also a close friend of mine, to pretend to come visit me every day and helped me sneak out our clothes piece by piece. After that, all that was left was to wait. The time came when one day every one of my husband’s family headed out for a wedding, I knew it was my chance – my only chance – and if I did not take it, I would never be able to get out of that house ever. So, I pretended to take both of our children to the market for groceries.

My neighbour stuffed all of my belongings into a bag and brought it to a meeting place that we had picked before. In the bag were six pieces of clothes for three of us, and a family photo album of the time when we were still happy together because after all, I still wanted to keep to our hearts some good memories of us. The whole thing was literally a breakout. When my husband and his family learned about it, they flipped out, scouring every place possible to find us. I heard they even hired gangsters to track us down, and threatened to kill those who had helped us.

But we made it out to the Highlands. I still remember it was a sunny mid-day when we set foot at Buon Ma Thuot Airport. There were only a few hundred Dong’s left in my pocket – even the airfares were from bought on loan from a generous friend. But all I could feel was a relief off my chest, and the first thought running through my mind was that “I am alive; three of us can live now”.

I went out to look for job with my accounting degree, with the fresh bruise still on my nose. I spent the next three years in hiding, cutting all contacts with my family and relatives, and started everything from scratch. Now I can fairly say we are in a better place: I can support my kids on my own and have been able to have some savings for them. I still tell my children that their dad loves them a lot and always wants to visit them but because of our situation, mommy cannot let him come. I want them to know that they are loved, and I don’t want my kids to spare any hate on their dad or on anyone. My daughter witnessed everything, and now she has grown into a very strong and independent girl.

Unfortunately, the paperwork for our divorce has not been completed, and my husband recently still texts to threaten to find me. Even so, I want you to take a photo of me, showing my face as I tell my own story, because I want it to be known.

Joining a training on gender-based violence, I see that domestic violence does not only mean physical pains. I can now call all the threats that mentally tortured me by their name. Now when I meet other women who are still stuck in the same situation like I was, I know what I need to say to them, I know what kind of advice I can give them, and definitely the first thing would be that they should not suffer and hold on to it any longer.

I would tell them that they should look further ahead: they can work, have a career of their own, bring up their children by themselves and have a better life, they do not need to rely on their spouse for any of those things, especially when he is abusive. Thinking back to those days, I believe had I continued to put up with it for just a few more months, I might have been six feet under by now.


Sometimes people asked me if I was married. And as I told them I had been but we are no longer together, they would immediately say sorry. To which I always reply, “there is no need to feel sorry for me, you should be happy instead because I was lucky enough that I could get out of it.”


Green One UN House, 304 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi, Viet Nam