hen I initially spoke to The Haven, I was reluctant to go into detail about what I was going through because I was feeling so overwhelmed. I’d been arrested following allegations of common assault made against me by my husband – the true perpetrator.
My first language is Punjabi and I had limited English, but I had a great support worker who was able to speak to me in Punjabi. It took a week of talking before I disclosed the abuse that I’d been suffering. I’d seen my GP about how I was feeling as a result and was prescribed anti-depressants.
I’d had an arranged marriage in India 6 years prior to speaking to The Haven. A few weeks into the marriage, the perpetrator told me he was not happy to be with me as he wanted to marry someone of his choice. I felt helpless as I didn’t have the option to return to my parents. I knew that both families would want the marriage to work, as divorce would have brought shame and dishonour.
My husband and I went to live in Portugal for a while before we arrived in the UK, and I’d been abused throughout this time. He’d twist my arms, hands, and fingers, slap me, which caused bruising to my face, and pull my hair. After one incident, I called the Police in Portugal, but the perpetrator warned me not to make a complaint – so I didn’t.
I was subjected to on-going physical, verbal, mental, emotional, and financial abuse in the UK. On one occasion, when I was travelling with him to view a property in another city, he became aggressive and verbally abusive. He called his parents in India and my then father-in-law made repeated threats to kill me.
I contacted one of my family members and disclosed the abuse. She advised me to report it to the Police. On one occasion, I told the perpetrator I’d report him if he continued to be abusive – he was intoxicated at the time. He called the Police and made an allegation against me, saying I was the perpetrator, and not him.
The Police arrived the next morning at 7 am and questioned me. I was asked to hand in my passport and mobile phone. The Police informed me that I had no legal right to remain in UK – they said my husband had cancelled my application at The Home Office.
On my release, I told the Police I wanted to return to the perpetrator as I would have been homeless otherwise. My husband told me I was not welcome. He contacted my parents and relatives and told them he had sent me away.
My family had to help me with accommodation, food, and essential items, as I had no recourse to public funds.
After some time, I decided to provide a statement to the police. I knew that if I returned to my husband, he would try to kill me. I also found out that he wanted me gone in order to marry someone else.
I went on to make a further disclosure to my support workers – my husband had spiked my drink on one occasion and he had recorded himself raping me while I was unconscious. He showed me the footage and said if I ever reported him to the Police, he would disgrace me by putting this footage online.
I hadn’t told my friends and family about this because I felt ashamed. My support workers reassured me that this was rape and that him recording it without my knowledge or consent was also illegal. They also reassured me that abuse is never the victim’s fault.
The next few months were stressful, as I waited to hear from the police about this incident. It took two separate dates to complete the statements. I also told the police about my in-laws, and their history of threats, violence and abuse towards me and many other female members of the family. I was very aware of my husband’s and family’s capabilities. Their threats to kill were serious.
I want to live a life without abuse and fear and to be independent. I’d like to continue with my studies as I was a teacher in India and want to continue on this career path. My support workers helped me to disclose my abuse to the police, and have supported me to safety plan for the future.
I felt listened to and understood by my support workers, who gave me hope and a future to look forward to.
I plan to access support groups when I feel ready, as well as counselling services at The Haven. After everything I’ve experienced, I’m beginning to feel better and I’m hopeful for the future.
Jasmin’s name has been changed to protect her identity. Images are for illustration purposes only.