was forced to leave my baby and flee from West Africa after my parents were kidnapped and murdered in a conflict. In fear for my life, I decided I needed to leave the country with everything and everyone I had ever known by any means necessary. I feared I would be kidnapped or killed too and so I make the heartbreaking decision to leave my three-month-old with my aunt and make the long journey to England.
It was not an easy journey, and I still don’t know where the courage came from but every step of the way I told myself I was doing this to make a better way for my child. Once I arrived in England, I started the process of claiming asylum. I spent some time in London before moving to Wolverhampton, which is where I met someone from the same ethnic background as me. He listened sympathetically to my story and seemed like a very nice person so we became fast friends.
I was very lonely, and things were not progressing as quickly as I hoped. So meeting someone who literally spoke the same language as I was a relief and I confided in him. Everything was going on smoothly and he said all the right things until the relationship became intimate and I found out I was pregnant.
When I told him I was pregnant with his baby, he requested that I have an abortion. I thought he was joking, but then two days later, he asked if I had booked the appointment to have the abortion. When I said no, he slapped me across the face. In shock, I left his house and went to stay with a friend, who suggested that I make a police report to deter him from doing it again.
I was in tears because how was I, someone who is claiming asylum, going to make a report against someone who was a citizen? What if he lies and they believe him and choose to deport me? So my friend decided to speak to him on my behalf. He told her the baby was not his and that if I was going to insist on having the baby, he would make sure that I am deported. He told her that I should stay away from him or else he would kill me because I am insisting on making his life a living hell.
I was so scared. I couldn’t even recognise him anymore. We had discussed marriage and a long-term relationship before though not in any great detail but he never gave me the impression that it wasn’t an option. I always thought that was what we were working towards so his reaction really surprised me.
My friend was kind enough to allow me to stay with her until I had the baby. At this point, we had obviously broken up and I was no longer in contact with him after he threatened to kill me. Soon after I had the baby he reached out. He said he was sorry for what he’d done and that he knew it was his son and that he wanted his family back.
I’d registered my baby’s birth in my name and but he wanted to add his name to the birth certificate. I thought he had good intentions so we added his name to the birth certificate and changed my baby’s surname from mine to his. As it turned out, he only wanted to claim benefits that I was not entitled to.
Shockingly, my baby was just three-months-old when he felt the wrath of his father’s anger. I asked him for the birth certificate, and he got really angry and threw my baby onto the bed with force. I was so upset. I rushed to get my baby who was crying inconsolably from the bed. Things got so heated that the neighbour came around to see what was going on.
I rushed out of the house with my baby and the clothes on our backs. A good Samaritan advised that I take the baby to the hospital to get checked. It was then it was discovered that he had a breathing issue and I was told he needed to have two emergency surgeries.
At the hospital, I was referred to The Haven who offered me a safe place to stay. I moved into refuge and slowly began to rebuild my life. I was provided with all the basics I needed as I was starting afresh with nothing. They even offered me toys for my baby. The support I received through counselling and therapy helped me to look beyond my past and look to my future.
Eventually with the support of The Haven, I was granted residency in the UK. I can’t say thank you enough to The Haven. They put me in tocuh with legal services and helped me get a restraining order against my ex-partner. Today, I feel happy and safe, and my baby is doing so much better now.
My other child back in West Africa is doing well and I am currently exploring my options to bring him here to stay with us in England. My advice to anyone in a similar situation is to recognise that love does not hurt. Just get out of there.
Tinu’s name has been changed to protect her identity. Images are for illustration purposes only.