I am a radical activist based in Washington DC. I fell in love with an energetic, charismatic activist I met in November when I was present to write about resistance to the G20 Summit, a global event in Antalya, Turkey. After I came home to the US, we talked every day. He was lovely and charming, I thought at the time. He offered a ready smile, engaging kindness, and intelligent conversation. He said all the right things to convince me that he cared about women’s rights and activism. In February, I decided to return to Turkey with the promise of love driving me forward. I couldn’t have known things would turn sour.
The first two weeks were quite the love story. I observed that he was drinking heavily, and called him an “alky,” but it was just a joke at first. We went to the beach and historic sites, and he introduced me to his friends. All seemed to be going well, and I felt that the romance was solidly moving forward.
Then came our first fight. I had wanted to interview a local woman for an article on Syrian refugees. He did not approve. He knew the woman and did not like her, so he strictly forbade me from speaking with her. After I questioned his rationale, he yelled and stormed out of the room to go smoke a cigarette. I just stood in the middle of the room not knowing what to do. Of course, as a Western woman, no one had ever forbidden me from speaking with anyone else. It was a strange feeling: Don’t I have a mouth to speak? Why can I not use it as I wish?
MacAuley learned what true Islam is versus what her leftist professors taught her…
Things deteriorated rapidly. His insecurity and childishness got worse. In the following weeks, I was violently pushed, blocked from leaving freely, and repeatedly told not to speak. If I spoke anyway, anger erupted. I endured threats that I would be burnt with cigarettes, flinching as he “faked” with his lit cigarette. I had to duck to avoid having sharp objects thrown at my face. I had water angrily poured over my head.
Unwanted sex? Rape? All the time. He did not stop to determine whether I consented to sex. Several times, he turned off my wifi and lied about it, a modern-day form of gaslighting. He verbally criticized me for using social media, my main link to the rest of my life back in the US, and tried to discourage me from using it. He forced me to unfriend one Turkish man on Facebook, and wanted me to unfriend many more.
MacAuley was even jailed by Turkish police because she was a Western journalist..
Two days later, however, I was jailed by Turkish police for several hours when I tried to simply enter a large public speech in Antalya by the president of Turkey. (They make a habit of jailing reporters and activists, and I didn’t look like I fit their norms. I wrote about this experience with the Turkish police here.) I had an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” sensation.