On Christmas Eve, the police rang and said they had found me a refuge space.
I grew up in Pakistan but always wanted to come to England. When I got engaged to a man in England, I was really happy, we talked to each other all the time and then we got married. I stayed in Pakistan while he moved back to England but I was thankful I’d found the right person. I began to find out things I hadn’t before. He was married previously and had two young daughters. Finally, I was brought to live in the UK with him. I met his daughters who were actually in their 20s and his first wife still lived in the family home.
I was so lost; I didn’t know the laws in the UK so kept quiet about everything. He became so rude and careless. He would force me to have sex and treated me like nothing; I felt I wasn’t considered to be a human.
He kept going to his old wife if I didn’t do something he’d asked and eventually explained they were divorced in England but not by Islamic law. She was his wife forever.
I was not allowed out and if I asked to, he would hit me on the mouth. When I didn’t do what he wanted, he always hit me. I was his servant and sex machine.
Eventually, I called the police before he came home one day. The police were really good, they got me an interpreter and told me to relax and found me a refuge space.
When I arrived on Christmas Eve, I was provided with some food and toiletries which made me feel like it may be ok. When I first came to refuge, I had no access to public funds, my key worker has helped me sort out my immigration, and I now have indefinite leave to remain. It has taken nine months. My key worker will help me find my own flat next, and I am learning English so I can become a Carer. I don’t have enough words to thank everyone at the refuge. I no longer feel alone.
The support from Solace has been so much more than enough.
*Farida's name and photo have been changed to protect her identity.