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Christina’s Story, Refuge

My name is Christina* and I have been in one of Solace’s refuges for 10 months which I would say the most important 10 months of my life. I came to the UK on a spousal Visa and met my husband at the airport. He did not embrace me and was so agitated and angry. He took me straight to his parent’s one bed flat. It was dark, cold and lifeless. His mother at once asked me to change my clothes and start cleaning the floor. I asked my husband why we were not going to our place as he described it and even sent me pictures. I was beaten up for asking too many questions.

He pulled my hair, slapped me and pushed me on the floor. He removed his belt and threatened to kill me. I slept on the kitchen floor starving and traumatised while he shared the bed with his Mother. My phone was taken away from me and I had no contact with the outside world. The only time I went out was with my mother in law so I can carry all her shopping.

My husband asked me to take off my clothes and started laughing at me calling me ugly and fat. He then asked me to lie down and raped me. I was not allowed to put my clothes back on for over an hour.

I spent a month in that situation. Starved, beaten and humiliated. I kept begging him to let me go back home. I called my Mother and she did not want me back. I went to a police officer to report what was happening. I just wanted to die. I was taken to a Solace refuge.
I met my support worker. I remember when she said be patient as in 3 months’ time you will be a different woman.

I cried when I was given a welcome pack with wonderful items. I was supported to register with a GP and find out that both my mental health and physical health suf¬fered. I have PTSD and Diabetes. As I left without any of my belongings I received a clothing grant and donations to keep me going as well as food vouchers. I received counselling and attended groups supported by Interpreters. I have learned a lot about Domestic and Sexual abuse and the effect of Trauma. I learned to have a voice. I am a survivor and intend to go back to work. I was a child psychologist in my country and would love to one day work in the field helping other people.

I can never thank you enough. You gave me hope. Now I am confident that I can grow and be a strong woman.

*Christina's name has been changed to protect her identity.