I hear people screaming and crying for desperate help as an explosion erupts in the distance. Shots shake my eardrums once more until they begin to ring. People nervously scatter in all directions, grabbing their families and huddling together. A cloud of iron-wrought dust fills my nostrils and I cough in response. My struggle to find oxygen grabs the attention of the man with the beard; it hangs low, just barely past his nipple, and curls into a cotton-filled tornado. His grazing-green eyes stay attached to mine as they begin to turn an angry red. He grips his RPG weapon and grunts while giving me a hellish look of resentment—it's so awful that I can almost read his thoughts.

Curse you, devil worshipper. Dare not to cough again.

I quickly glance away and take note of the line forming around the mountain bend of Sinjar. I notice the green, hazel, and blue eyes that peer in all directions, including those of the Islamic State. Sinjar is one of the largest inhabited areas of Yazidis; about 70,000 of us fled here when the Islamic state began invading areas we once called home. Our religion has never been appealing to most of the Islamic community since it was founded in the 11th century. It derived from Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam. Yazadis are predominantly Kurdish and have kept the syncretic religion alive for centuries. Despite this, we continue to be threatened by extermination and oppressed by other religious extremists.

We live in small districts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, but we have lost count of these districts after ISIS invaded. The UN has claimed that roughly 40,000 people—many women and children—have taken refuge in any of the nine locations on the Sinjar mountains; however, Sinjar will soon be as lost as the Yazidi community. I wonder where is the next place we'll call home?

I turn to my younger brother who is crying and panting as he looks at the dirt on his feet. He's hungry and thirsty. He is only nine years old. Since the Islamic State has invaded the mountain of Sinjar, we have been without food and water. The United States has been trying to provide us with food—about 108 bundles of food have been dropped within the last week. When they drop, people scavenge and rummage through them.

I watch as a group of militants approach my two sisters, younger brother, and I. Suddenly, my steady breathing turns into gasps for air as they constrict my arms and leave my dangling feet lifeless. I begin to scream for them to let me go. My body convulses even though I feel tense. My brother begins sobbing as they hurriedly shove me into the back of a rusted, outdated pickup truck. Other girls are forcefully thrown into the truck as well. My sisters are sitting closer to the tailgate, grabbing onto each other and holding onto what little innocence they've retained.

My sisters and I are three girls among hundreds of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority who have been captured by the Islamic State fighters. Even girls as young as five are held in captivity. The Islamic State fighters consider us a heretical sect because our religion does not meet their credentials. We believe that humans were not created from Adam and Eve, but created from Adam alone. Therefore, one cannot convert to our faith, but must be born into it instead. Our God is called Yasadan; he created the universe and entrusted seven angels to oversee it. These angels are quite special because they can be reincarnated into humans on numerous occasions. One of our angels is known as the "Peacock Angel" and many from the Islamic community are fixated on the idea that the peacock has a connection to the devil, but we see it differently. The Peacock Angel is the most angelic to us. He is viewed as Satanic to other Muslims because he once fell from the grace of Yasadan, but quickly regained good standing with Yasadan. This theological misunderstanding has led us to persecution at the hands of Christians, Muslims and ISIS—some of the most radical to force us to "convert or die." People don't take the time to understand our background—it only frustrates them and causes them to discriminate against us in hopes of getting rid of us and the beliefs we stand behind. Reports of violence, repression, and murder by ISIS and other extremist groups have become increasingly prevalent in Iraq over this conviction.

I watched everything I've ever lived around vanish into a cloud of dust. Homes that took years and years to build now sit devastated after militants raided and bombed them. Piles of cement are scattered everywhere with pieces of clothing strewn about the corners.

Smoke gathers in numerous places all across the mountains. There are raids and bands of fire surrounding every block in sight. Families try to stay close together until one—if not all— are captured by ruthless militants.

The men go to a city nearby called Tal Afar. Tal Afar holds 3,500 women and children for slavery. We are taken to the Badosh prison where herds of people are lined about in chains. However, once the U.S. airstrikes come about, my sisters and I move to the Islamic State's biggest stronghold, Mosul, in northern Iraq. In Mosul, many women are taken to a house full of Islamic State fighters to be married off.

From the city of Mosul, my sisters and I are taken to the militants' de facto capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa. This city is filled with despair—flesh is scattered throughout the streets and the walls are covered in blood graffiti. People are hung on cable wires and buses are parked anxiously on the sides of roads, anticipating explosions from random raids of fire. I grab tightly onto the chain wrapped around my arm as I see huddles of people antagonizing children in the middle of the road. Although the United Nations Security Council condemned the ISIS attacks on the Yazidi community—saying those responsible could face trials for crimes against humanity—it doesn't faze them, not in the least. Sunnis walk in formation with AK-47 assault rifles and RPK's in hand. The slightest, odd movements beg them to lift their weapons and shoot, and suddenly hot tears are slipping past my eyes. I know how out of control I am.

I am guided into a house where many other girls are abducted. "Hurry in, Infidel!" a militant screams after me as I slowly walk into the house. I remained in the house only five days before being sold off for a thousand dollars.

First, I am a slave to a Palestinian who claims that I am not the first Yazidi he has been able to make his dog. My slavery does not last long—I eventually shoot him after he attacks me over a small dispute. I was only trying to create his favorite dish of Musakhan. I don't tell militants about this when they find me in an alleyway covered in blood and they don't ask. Instead, they clean me and sell me off again. They don't mind the bruises pounded into my eyes or the slashes across my cheeks. They don't notice the misery in posture and the coarse hairs that remain on my head. They sell me to a Saudi fighter who lives in a house full of other fighters. The Saudi fighters take a powdered drug and I serve them a cup of tea causing them to fall asleep. I flee once more.

I find a man who is able to drive me to Turkey so I can meet with my brother. My brother borrows two-thousand dollars from friends to pay a smuggler to get me back to Iraq. Instead, I end up in Maqluba, a tiny roadside hamlet outside the Kurdish city of Dahuk where several other Yazidi families are staying.

I meet many other women who went through similar conditions as I did. About 7,000 Yazidi women alone are currently being used as slaves. Gruesome images of slain people boggle my mind constantly as I continue to learn how many Yazidi women are affected.

I walk out onto the front stoop of the house that I currently live in, and I watch people pace nervously. They wear scarves across their faces— I can only see their eyes peer in all directions—some eyes blue, some eyes green, some hazel; they wear scarves across their faces, obscuring everything but their eyes. They look troubled.

Ashley Borda is a junior majoring in Business Administration and English.She enjoys long car rides, cookie dough icecream, and purple lipstick.