My daughter should be celebrating her 30th birthday today but that joy of celebration, that potential to be the person she could ever want to be, was stolen from her by a cycle of physical abuse, psychological torture and emotional blackmail. Time still not healed the loss, but maybe telling her story will help me and others who have also endured such pain to overcome the agony.
By the time a woman reaches the age of 30 her family hopes she has accomplished a certain number of things; the list is never exhaustive but a mother hopes her daughter has found love, is married or is looking to marry her true love, that her career has moved onward and upwards, and that she may even be a mother herself.
What mother doesn’t wait in excitement to meet their grandchild? To see her daughter walk down the wedding aisle with her husband to be with happiness in both their eyes? To see her succeed in life, to become independent and settled?
My daughter Meera, should be at a place where at least some of these things would be accomplished. She would have been 30 today. She never got the chance to even begin to try to live her life.
She was just 25 when she took her own life, succumbing to a brutal, protracted period of domestic abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, psychological torment, blackmail and extortion. By the end of three years of punishing abuse she was a walking wreck of nerves, constantly doubting herself, her existence, fearing for the safety of her family, tired and exhausted with life itself.
She never intended it to be that way, she was far too trusting, too loving, too forgiving, and her boyfriend used all of these qualities to manipulate, deceive and abuse her. Sadly I’m not the only mother out there whose daughter has had to suffer silently, dealing with the beatings, the demands for money, the threats against loved ones, but my Meera is part of a small-albeit growing-list of young women who cannot take anymore abuse and mental torture and want to leave this world to be free of the pain.
My Meera took that road and we were deprived of seeing her happy ever again. It’s horrific, it’s soul destroying, and time is not necessarily a healer because like any mother, your child is in your thoughts every moment of the day no matter where in the universe they are. To think that we can’t celebrate her 30th birthday or to hear her voice again is profoundly saddening and crushes us every day.
There’s been many times where I’ve gone to bed and not wanted to wake up and the pain is still so very real only five years after she passed. Meera was taken in by someone who said he loved her, yet he demanded money from her, choked her, slapped her, punched and kicked her, told her she was ugly and overweight, told her that if she didn’t give into his every demand that he would punish her, make her ugly so nobody could ever love her, kill her sister, kill me, my husband too. He wanted her to be alone, miserable, his pawn, his to own and abuse. Slowly and surely Meera became a shadow of herself because he would never let her have a moment’s peace.
There are other girls out there who are experiencing this, and who are just as young as Meera was, if not younger. This is a vicious circle that continues to go round and round no matter if it’s 2010, 2020 or 2040. Domestic abuse will always live with us and it’s impact on mental wellness cannot be underestimated.
I never thought my daughter would kill herself because of someone else’s abuse, ruthlessness and manipulation, but abuse can be so deliberate, so tactical and so specific, that it gets under your skin, distorts your mental state, and never lets you go.
I find it hard to live with knowing what she went through but one thing keeps me going. There are others out there who need help, who need to spot the signs early on, who need to ask for help and feel emboldened to get it, to get the freedom they deserve.
That’s why this year, as Meera turns 30 in the heaven she deserves to live in, I’ve written a memoir of our time together as mother and daughter, discussing the horrors she had to live with during her short time with us, and to find answers and some sense of peace after her untimely passing. Importantly it’s a guide to those living in hell with a partner who abuses them, hopefully giving them the courage to make that first move to be free of the cycle of violence.
To be honest with you if I couldn’t put it all into words and make some sense of it, I don’t know if I could continue to breathe. It’s taken over my senses, my reason, my sanity.
I sought out someone who understands this issue, who has written about it before, an Author named Saurav Dutt and together we’ve tried to put the pieces back together, to understand why this happened to Meera and how to ensure it can be dealt with so it never hurts another innocent person again.
Sadly my journey is a journey that parents around the world have had to walk through. Domestic abuse is horrific enough but when it impacts your mental state to the point that you don’t want to live anymore, well that leaves scars, scars we the living have to deal with. The pain is unimaginable but there must be a higher cause, a reason to live, and that reason is to ensure others do not feel the pain Meera did.
I still walk the journey alone every day, both my husband and I cannot come to terms with the fact that Meera isn’t with us to celebrate her 30th. She leaves a sister robbed of their wonderful memories together, nieces she idolised when they were born and who she will now never see grow up.
I hope wherever she is she’ll be reading the book with you too.
Let’s never walk that road alone, it’s too painful, and there is no need because there is help and help is coming. Just keep your eyes and ears open for it because whoever you are and wherever you’re reading this, you deserve more.
Daksha Dalal is the mother of Meera Dalal who took her own life after a period of sustained abuse by her boyfriend. She has co-authored a memoir with Author and Human Rights Campaigner Saurav Dutt, called ‘Fall in Light: A Mother’s Story’ which will be released later this year.
To keep up with news regarding the book please visit and sign up to a Facebook page dedicated to Meera and follow the Authors on social media.