Born into a traditional and conservative family, patriarchy was a major part of my childhood and still is. Being dusky since birth, I was an outcast. Fair and lovely was my best friend as a young girl. But soon this obsession leaned towards laser treatments and popping pills to look fairer, especially in my 20'sand looking for a groom also became an obsession.
Between the ages of 25-28, I had to meet 10 potential husbands men for whom I had to dress up, and serve coffee, every month. I was "rejected" because of my skin colour, because of my height, because I ate meat, because I consumed alcohol and the best one was "because I was too qualified", I have a postgraduate degree in Architecture. There came a point when I had to withhold some information so that I do not get "rejected".
This was also the time when I had started working out and I dedicated two hours to exercising daily. Eventually, after 3-4 years of doubting myself, losing touch with my identity, having lost self-worth, I decided to get married to someone I met through a "broker". At that point, it seemed like the right choice. At this point I was extremely frustrated, friends were all getting married, the pressure to "settle down" from family and of course I had my own expectations from life.
The wedding was hosted by my father, which is what tradition tells us to do. It was a beautiful affair, but the marriage was not. I moved to Australia soon after the wedding and from then my life was a roller coaster. I did not have a Visa to work so I was mainly cooking and taking care of the home. I had picked up a gym membership which was helpful. I also studied and acquired a certification as a Coach accredited to the Australian Strength & Conditioning Association.
One month into my living with my ex-husband, I started getting demands for a house, car etc. from him. I found this absurd and much unexpected. When I opposed and asked where this was coming from, I was physically abused. For starters, I was locked out of the house for several hours. I used to record conversations as I did not feel secure when he found out about this; he tried to confiscate my phone.
When I refused he "bit" me, snatched the phone and threatened to drain it in the washbasin. He then proceeded to drag me out on the balcony and locked me outside. It was 6-degrees outside and I was in plain pyjamas. At this point, something changed in me, the way I saw him, the way I saw myself and the way I saw my life. I returned to Bengaluru after two weeks and decided not to go back to Australia till get a visa and job.
On my return, I started coaching at a strength and conditioning facility in Bangalore. Here, I train and coach recreational athletes as well as pro athletes. I was told not to take up the job and head back to Australia to be with my husband because that's what a woman should do. Shut up and endure. But there was a voice in me that said, if I wanted to save myself, I have to be selfish and do something for myself.
Today I can say, I won. I tried to forgive my ex-husband, but I just was not able to and I applied for a divorce. My family opposed and a few of them even stopped talking to me. I faced a lot of criticism for becoming a "trainer" and not sticking to "being an architect" but this did not stop me. Depression was a major result but I soldiered through and I knew I would survive.
Work saved me, coaching saved me, training saved me, my athletes saved me and most importantly, I saved myself. There is a saying, "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have." I experienced this and what a beautiful experience it was. No matter what life throws at you, you have to be your HERO. Yes, I had a support system, but at the end of the day, the struggle was mine and I survived.
All you need is the courage to say NO! It's hard, but that's why it's worth it. One failure does not decide the course of your life. I now have an amazing career, I help women become and feel strong. I work with some of the most amazing women who are all extremely inspiring and this adds more meaning to my work, every single day. I also fell in love with the most amazing person.
We have had similar struggles, we healed together and we both decided to do life together. So you see, this is just the beginning and I know it will be beautiful.
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