Wellington woman breaks silence about ‘years in captivity’
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla.– For three years, Fouzia said, she was held captive in her own home. “I really wished for death,” she said through an Arabic translator. Fouzia, born in Morocco, moved to Florida in 2010 to be with her new husband Qasem Alabed. “I loved him very much,” she said. “I loved him more than I loved myself.”
Soon after moving to the United States, Fouzia was pregnant. Her American dreams seemed to be coming true until physical and emotional abuse began, she said. “He got angry and he gets angry very easily,” said Fouzia. “He loses his temper.”
Fouzia claims that Alabed forbid her from leaving their Wellington home; except to take their son to a playground near City Hall. “I would go to the park, sit down and watch my son play and sit and cry,” she said. She had no friends, family or money and she was unable to speak English. Only her son, Fouzia said, made life worth living.
In the summer of 2013, Fouzia found new strength inside of herself. “My first son, I felt I was forced to stay and settle and take it,” she said. “But the one that I’m carrying right now gave me the courage that I didn’t want the same treatment anymore.” Fouzia is now pregnant with another child – a girl.
July 17, 2013 was the day that Fouzia said she was pushed to the brink. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office documents show that an argument with her husband escalated that evening. Investigators say Alabed beat Fouzia with a television remote and a cable. “That was the triggering factor that I decided to leave,” Fouzia said.
Fouzia said she and her son slipped out the back door and headed to the only place that she knew – the little park next to City Hall. In the parking lot, they found just one car and there was a woman inside. “I started knocking at the window as I’m crying,” said Fouzia through her tears. “It was the words that I taught myself and memorized over Google: ‘My husband beats me. Please I want to go center police.’ “
PBSO deputies arrived and took photographs of injuries on Fouzia’s legs. Deputies took Fouzia to a safe house and Alabed was taken to jail.
About two months later, Fouzia went back to the Wellington property with a PBSO escort and a team of people from No More Tears , a Broward County-based organization that is helping Fouzia get back on her feet. Clothes, toys and documents were retrieved from Fouzia’s home.
Alabed was present at the time Fouzia returned to the home. He had posted $20,000 bond and was back living at the property. NewsChannel 5’s Dan Corcoran asked Alabed about Fouzia’s allegations of captivity for three years. “How?” Alabed asked. “I don’t understand what that means. How?”
Alabed said that Fouzia was never held against her will; nor was he abusive towards her. Prosecutors, though, have charged Alabed with aggravated battery on a pregnant woman. He denies all of the allegations. “One hundred percent I deny. I never did anything,” he said.
If convicted, Alabed could face up to fifteen years in prison.
Fouzia, meanwhile, said she still has much to learn about what she calls ‘life on the outside’.
“To be honest with you, fear was all over me,” she said. “I felt so insignificant on this earth, in this life.”
Fouzia’s lawyers are working to obtain a permanent restraining order against her husband. Fouzia is also filing for divorce.
Alabed is awaiting trial on the one count of aggravated battery that he faces. The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office continues to investigate the other claims that Fouzia has made.
“What she has experienced is extreme brutality,” said Somi Ali, Founder & President of No More Tears. “The neighbor did not know she existed,” said Ali of the three years Fouzia claimed to have been in the home. The non-profit organization provides immediate individualized assistance to victims of domestic violence.
No More Tears is assisting Fouzia in the legal process as well as searching for a more permanent place for Fouzia and her son to live. The organization hopes to help Fouzia obtain a driver’s license and a job. Fouzia will also soon enroll in English classes, said Ali.
How We Can Help
If you, a friend or a family member find themselves in a situation such as this, please call the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. at 305 670-3330 right away. Scott A. Ferris, Esq. is a licensed family law attorney who has been practicing law since 1987. He is available whenever you need him to pursue your rights. Please learn about our firm at www.FerrisLawFirm.com.