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Journey to Safety and Freedom: Maryam's Escape from Abuse as an Atheist LGBTQ+ Activist


Maryam watching rainy outside by the window

Maryam, a 24-year-old secular Jordanian, has faced immense challenges as an atheist, LGBTQ+ activist and survivor of abuse. This gripping story recounts her journey from detention at the Istanbul airport to a place of safety, support, and opportunity. Learn how ARAP, a program dedicated to assisting individuals like Maryam, intervened and provided critical aid, including psychological guidance, financial support, safe accommodations, job placement, and legal assistance.


Maryam's ordeal began when she found herself detained at the Istanbul airport, sharing her dire situation on social media. To her surprise, ARAP took notice and sprang into action, deploying a dedicated Arabic case manager to the airport. Miraculously, Maryam was released from detention, and the ARAP team ensured her safe return home.


ARAP continued its unwavering support, helping Maryam secure accommodations and find a job despite the challenging circumstances. Moreover, ARAP assisted her in concealing her communication and digital footprints, shielding her from her family's persistent attempts to locate her. Maryam's traumatic past involved an abusive father, an affiliation with ISIS, sexual assault by one of her brothers, and forced marriage to an ISIS fighter. She had previously obtained a visa to the United States, but her family's pressure compelled her to return home. Efforts to escape her abusive husband were met with severe beatings, prompting her to seek medical attention.


Determined to regain her freedom, Maryam resolved to fly back to the USA, but encountered obstacles when her visa was unexpectedly canceled. Thankfully, a compassionate female airport official stepped in, changing her flight destination to Istanbul, Turkey. From there, Maryam's distress call on social media reached the ARAP team, who swiftly came to her aid, ensuring her safety and providing essential support.

Recognising the gravity of her psychological trauma, ARAP's initial priority was to provide Maryam with expert psychological guidance services. Subsequently, they extended financial assistance and secured safe accommodations with respectful roommates. Additionally, ARAP facilitated a job opportunity for Maryam, enabling her to rebuild her life. Throughout this arduous journey, legal aid remained a constant, empowering Maryam to navigate legal complexities and protect her rights.


Today, Maryam has found solace and opportunity in a Western nation, far removed from her abusive husband and violent family. Her resilience and determination inspire others, highlighting the vital role programs like ARAP play in supporting survivors of abuse and assisting LGBTQ+ and atheist individuals seeking safety and freedom.


Maryam's story is one of triumph over adversity, a testament to the indomitable human spirit. Through the unwavering support of ARAP, she not only escaped a life of abuse but also found safety, support, and the opportunity to rebuild her life in a Western nation. By sharing her journey, we shed light on the invaluable work programs like ARAP do in assisting survivors of abuse and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. Together, we can create a world where everyone can live free from violence and discrimination.

This is a video of Maryam at the Istanbul airport when we have first met her upon her Tweets for help.


Maryam's story in her own words.

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