Muslim woman (illustrative)..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hanan, a 26-year-old Syrian native now taking refuge with family in Turkey, had been deprived, by force, of her innocence - of that little girl's dream of the white dress and perfect wedding night - when married to an ISIS police chief and held as his prisoner/maid/sex-slave/trophy wife for a month, until his death.
Freed from the reins of his control, she spoke to a CNN reporter.
Her identity still remained anonymous, Hanan being an alias, still living in fear and in the trauma of her past, despite having escaped to a safer land free of ISIS control.
Hanan teared up talking to the CNN reporter, telling of the ISIS conquest of her city in eastern Syria, and the detainment of her father who was taken in for the possession of a weapon - an AK-47 rifle that was kept in memory of Hanan's brother who was killed in previous clashes.
His detainment was, in reality, the beginning of hers - for it was his freedom that was traded for her hand in marriage to Abu Mohammed al-Iraqi, the ISIS fighter stationed as police chief at the station where her father was being held.
"I had to accept," Hanan told the reporter.
Hanan never knew the real name of the man she was set to marry. Abu Mohammed al-Iraqi was a pseudonym; He was a thin, tall, dark-toned man with grown out hair and a long beard that was constantly on edge, sleeping with a gun next to his head.
"There was no emotion," Hanan tells the reporter of their first night together during which al-Iraqi forced himself on her. "I felt like he just wanted to take what was his right, like he had to," she said.
Following that night, Hanan was kept, like a prisoner, in al-Iraqi's home. He locked her inside for days on end, let her communicate solely with her parents, on his watch, and kept communication between the two to a minimum.
She was his sex slave, maid, and prisoner, CNN said.
Fortunately for Hanan, her imprisonment in al-Iraqi's home was short-lived. A month into their marriage, he was killed, and she was sent back home to her parents.
"Something in me was lost, something I can't get back," Hanan told the reporter of her homecoming. "My mother only had tears to express her emotions. My father the same. Because I sacrificed for him."
Yet Hanan was still not free.
Although freed from the reins of al-Iraqi, the threat of ISIS was still looming above her.
A local ISIS leader requested to see her. Hanan turned him down.
Non-Syrian female envoys, authoritative and unsympathetic, were sent on his behalf to deliver the message - she was to marry another fighter.
The idea was unfathomable to Hanan. So she fled the country, finding her way to relatives in Turkey.
Hanan's story is not uncommon. Hundreds of such cases have been recorded by activist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, according to CNN. About a third of the women being forced into such marriages are minors, under the age of 18.
Hanan told CNN that many girls choose to remain at home once they turn 13, "imprisoned by fear of becoming the next bride, the next slave, the next prize claimed by ISIS under the guise of marriage."