About Mia Odeh
Mia Odeh was born in Palestine, the youngest of thirteen children in a prosperous family. At age sixteen, Mia became a child bride when her family arranged for her to be married to a man more than twice her age. Her new husband took her from the familiarity of her Arabic speaking homeland to the new and daunting world of Phoenix, Arizona, where Mia learned that her distaste and fear of him was warranted. Mia endured years of physical and sexual assault, bore him five children, and was forced to move from Arizona to Qatar and back, and eventually to Michigan.
Despite the cruelty of her circumstances, Mia never stopped dreaming of a different life for herself and her children. While suffering continuous abuse, Mia studied English in secret and saved small amounts of money, in hopes that she and the children might one day escape. When the abuse increased to the point where it attracted the attention of the neighbors and the police, Mia and the children were able to find shelter in a safe house.
This new beginning was not without its own ups and downs, including the birth of another child to a man who took advantage of Mia’s vulnerable state and stole everything she had. With relentless tenacity and dedication, Mia started again to try and regain stability for herself and her six children. In 2019, with the help of a mentor, Mia made a list of bold goals. She is now completing a degree in criminal justice, has a job in senior management, and has been able to purchase her own home. In spite of the years of abuse Mia suffered and ongoing estrangement from her own family in Palestine, she and her children have managed to pull themselves up from rock bottom to achieve an incredible degree of success.
Excerpts from Mia Odeh’s Debut Memoir
Mia’s Odyssey: Taking Back My Soul
By Mia Odeh with Mike Ball
“I sat with my hands folded on my lap, wearing my long black dress and black hijab. My mother was chatting and laughing with two women, while a thoroughly unpleasant man sitting near her stared at me with what I could only interpret as a sort of curious lust. I was fifteen years old, and I was doing my best to be invisible, but it obviously wasn’t working.
I was the youngest of thirteen children…Three other children in our family died as toddlers…I’m not sure how I know this, because my mother never spoke of the children she lost, but those three siblings were buried somewhere under our house.
My mother…was not a nice woman. She ruled the house and my father in a sort of simmering rage. I don’t know how any mother could hate her daughters, but I really believe that my mother did.
My brothers…were the important ones, and we were just there to make them happy. They had been taught that girls are an inferior species, and they were happy to embrace that teaching.
I tend to speak of every member of my family in the past tense. This is because I have no contact with my family any more. The way my life has unfolded is not acceptable to their way of thinking, and they have cast me out as not worthy of our family name.”