Kamal Dhillon shows off the cover of her second book I Am Kamal: Survivor to Thriver. The book was released Wednesday, Sept. 12. The book is a follow up to her first, going into more detail of her marriage to an abusive man and while the second half talks about the culture, the fear and how Dhillon survived all those years. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Kamal Dhillon shows off the cover of her second book I Am Kamal: Survivor to Thriver. The book was released Wednesday, Sept. 12. The book is a follow up to her first, going into more detail of her marriage to an abusive man and while the second half talks about the culture, the fear and how Dhillon survived all those years. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

LOCAL AUTHOR

Surrey woman’s ‘tell-all’ book aims to help those struggling with domestic violence

Second book details abusive marriage, how people failed her

Despite enduring years of abuse and sadistic torture at the hands of her husband, there’s a simple reason why Kamal Dhillon doesn’t like to call herself a victim.

She’s become so much more than that.

“Not the battered woman. Not the abused wife, but I have a name,” said Dhillon.

The Surrey resident says she grew up “kind of nameless and really faceless as well” and that continued into her abusive marriage, during which time she was called “anything but (her) name.”

She said that’s why she named her second book I Am Kamal: Survivor to Thriver.

“I got rid of my old labels and replaced them with new ones. Today, I am Kamal Dhillon, I am ‘ma’, I am ‘grandma’, I’m someone that somebody would call at two in the morning and say, ‘I don’t want to live’ or someone will say, ‘He kicked me out.’”

She said the book, which was released on Sept. 12, more extensively details the abuse she endured from her husband in the ‘80s to the mid-’90s, but it also discusses how her community failed her.

“I write a bit more about the two or three scenes that I described (in the first book),” she said. “One was actually under the Pattullo Bridge. Around the mid-’80s, there wasn’t really much developed under the Pattullo Bridge, so he found that space really suitable to take me. He took me and beat me. I may have touched on it in the first book, but here (in I Am Kamal), I’m giving you a man who, if you saw him, you would say, ‘What a nice man.’ But I’m telling you who this ‘nice man’ is behind that mask – so what he does to me.

“He had ropes, he had a few tools with him that he would show me and then put it in the trunk. Under that bridge, the way he beat me – and I was pregnant with my third child. I give you a picture of domestic violence in its severity.”

For 15 years, Dhillon said her husband harassed her and their four children, stalked them and threatened to kill them. She said he tried to gouge her eye out, doused her with kerosene, hung her, raped her and starved her.

She said she survived torture and many attempted murders from him until his death. Dhillon said his body was found near where he had previously tried to drown her.

RELATED: Taking a united stand against domestic violence

The second half of the book, she said, touches on how the community failed her, how the justice system failed her and how elders in the South Asian community failed her.

“How we try to say, ‘Well, it’s not that bad if you just do what he says. Think of your sister, think of your family, think of our name, pride, the honour.’”

In this book, Dhillon said she challenges the victims and asks them to look at the alternative of staying with their abuser. She said at the end of I Am Kamal also includes questions similar to a workbook.

“What does an abuser look like? (Or what) if I came to you know with no bruises, no cuts, nothing that you can see, and say, ‘I’m a victim of spousal abuse,’” said Dhillon, adding that people generally look for signs of trauma first.

“But that’s our natural reaction when we say, what does a victim look like? Well, a lot of people would say broken, beaten, bruised, cut, hair messy,” she said. “What I write in my book is to explain to you that most of us hide our black and blues. I hid it for years and I hid it very well with makeup.”

Dhillon has actually had 10 surgeries on her jaw – and it’s still not corrected.

“If you look at me, you don’t see anything wrong with my face, but half of my face is metal. It’s artificial… I just hide it well.”

While she used to be embarrassed of her scars, Dhillon said she now wears them proudly.

“I hope I can be that voice for every parent, every victim and also for the abuser to say it’s not OK.”

Dhillon, who gives talks about her history with domestic violence and training on how to address people who have been abused, said she didn’t have a plan to write a second book.

“But as I go around speaking and training, I realized that I can’t be in every city, in every home, in every occupation. But I wrote this book with the intent that if somebody did not hear me speak, did not have the opportunity to ask me questions, they would get it from this book.”

I Am Kamal, Dhillon said, is a “no-shame” book.

“It’s tell all… My first book I was very scared, so I wrote in a way that wouldn’t offend anybody in a way that was just minimal. But this book, if you never met me and read this book, you could relate it even with something you had stuffed away 20 years ago.

“It would surface up, and that’s the whole point of it.”

To find out more about Dhillon, or to purchase her book, visit www.kamaldhillon.com.



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Just Posted

William Henry Rawlison was last seen on Sunday, June 20, 2021. (Contributed photo)
Police looking for missing White Rock senior

William Rawlison, last seen on June 20, may be driving to Kamloops

Natalie Brown and Colten Wilke star in the feature film Thunderbird, co-produced by South Surrey-raised Michael Morrison and released this month in Canada, the U.S and the U.K. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey-raised producer helps bring ‘Thunderbird’ to the screen

Michael Morrison guides B.C.-shot thriller with First Nations connection

File photo
Surrey Board of Trade vows ‘a lot of noise’ will be made about tax increases

Huberman calls for comprehensive tax review at all levels of government

2019 Red Serge Gala guests try their luck at roulette. (Simon Lau photo)
High hopes for in-person Red Serge Gala on Semiahmoo Peninsula

28th fundraiser for community safety programs set for Oct. 23 return

TEASER PHOTO ONLY - Hillcrest Drive-In's sign at the end its run in Surrey, in a photo uploaded to cinematreasures.org by hermangotlieb.
SURREY NOW & THEN: The city’s last drive-in, Hillcrest showed movies for 50 years on site turned shopping mall

‘It was a good memory, being the last drive-in in the Lower Mainland, at the time,’ says former operator Jay Daulat

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read