still remember the night I called the police, afraid for my life. As a migrant woman I was isolated; he would use this to taunt me, as he told me I had no life without him.
The police referred me to The Haven who offered me safety in refuge. When I moved in, I felt overwhelmed and uncertainty clouded my mind. My keyworker told me about all the support available. She tried to assure me that being in refuge would give me the time and space to consider my options. But I wasn’t so sure.
Fears of deportation and homelessness gnawed away, as I knew my spousal visa made me ineligible for benefits and housing. I thought he was right – I had no life without him. And so, I went back to him.
A turning point came when an agency worker contacted The Haven about a concerning message I sent. That message prompted a welfare check by the police, revealing more abuse and sexual violence. In that moment, I knew I had to leave.
Back in refuge, the journey to reclaim my life began. I received legal support and the prospect of a destitution domestic violence (DDV) concession application for financial assistance gave me hope. Throughout the application process, The Haven supported me with weekly welfare payments and essential items, sparing me further hardship.
I was afraid of going to court because I thought I didn’t have enough evidence. But my keyworker never lost faith, helping me gather and present evidence needed for my DDV concession application, which was successful.
With my new status, I was able to apply for Universal Credit, gaining financial independence. I took control of my life for the first time since being in the UK, paying for essentials myself.
Activities and counselling sessions helped me find my voice and I formed friendships with other women who shared similar journeys. Together, we uplifted one another, celebrating each other’s progress and dreams.
When my immigration status was granted, I felt a sense of stability I hadn’t felt in years. With support from The Haven, I applied for housing but the thought of living alone scared me. My keyworker reassured me that I could seek her support whenever I needed it. Her belief in me gave me the courage to embrace my independence. As I prepare to move into my first home in the UK, I am thankful to The Haven for helping me reclaim my life.
Naima’s name has been changed to protect her identity. Images are for illustration purposes only.