contacted The Haven while still living with my boyfriend, after my neighbours gave me the helpline number. My boyfriend had been subjecting me to “rough sex” persistently. The neighbours heard my screams and advised me to get help. I was allocated an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, and offered safety planning advice and emotional support.
The day after contacting The Haven, my boyfriend told me to get out of his property. I had only been in the UK for five weeks and I had nowhere to go. I came to the UK to meet my boyfriend. We had been dating for a year and had discussed getting married. Luckily, I had my passport on me when he told me to leave. He didn’t allow me to take anything.
I was not entitled to benefits, and I was reliant on him. Even though he promised to support me and my children before I came to the UK, he never did and whenever I asked for anything, he got angry. He was very aggressive. He never hit me, but the sexual violence was unbearable, as well as the constant emotional abuse.
He would tell me to get out of his house and go back to my home country whenever we had a disagreement. He checked my phone regularly and would rush back home after work. I wasn’t allowed to leave the house unless he said so.
After I had a miscarriage, I asked if I could attend a local church. He let me but one Sunday, the Pastor asked to hold my hand to pray for me. He was extremely angry about this, and he raped me. It was after this assault that I found the courage to contact The Haven.
When I arrived in refuge I had only my passport and the clothes on my back but The Haven gave me a food parcel to see me through my first few days whilst I settled in. Through counselling, I was able to disclose my history of ongoing abuse that I had been subjected to throughout my childhood and adult life. I had never spoken to anyone about this before.
I was supported with weekly welfare payments which I was able to use for essential shopping and to get vitamins following the miscarriage. I was not entitled to free health care, so I received a bill from the hospital for the care I received after the miscarriage.
The Haven contacted the NHS to explain my situation and this cost was waivered. I was very grateful. With all the support I received from The Haven, I felt empowered to return to my home country on my own terms. I no longer felt helpless. I felt safe, strong and confident in making my return journey home, as well as starting my journey to healing.
Fatima’s name has been changed to protect her identity. Images are for illustration purposes only.