01709 519212 or 01709 519211 or email apnahaq@tiscali.co.uk
Apna Haq

Service Users Stories

Story 1 - Domestic Violence

I came to this country having had a forced marriage where I did not want to marry my cousin but I had no choice in the matter. Having joined my husband and in-laws here, I suffered many years of various forms of abuse not only from my husband but also from my in-laws.

I was never allowed to go outside to meet my friends or even to the local corner shop. I never saw a child benefit book and had no money. I was totally dependent on my mother in law and husband when it came to finances or even buying clothes and necessities for my children. In all the years I lived in my marital home, I was never allowed to use the phone. My mother in law was in control of everything and basically, I lived like a prisoner.

For six years, I was physically beaten / battered / emotionally blackmailed / threatened with deportation if I did not conform to my in-laws and husband requests. When I was beaten – I had to put foundation on to hide the scars for when local friends / family came. I had to put on an act and had to smile even if I had been battered seconds ago in the next room.

I used to pray to Allah to help my desperate circumstances, as I could not bear it for any longer. So many times, I felt suicidal and wanted to give my life up, but the thought of my children stopped me from this.

It was only when my mother in law went to Pakistan when one of the family friends informed me of the Apna Haq project which helped / supported women in similar situations as my self. The one-to-one support that I received from the project helped me to realise that I had a right to be respected and valued as an individual.

Being believed and understood helped me to build my self –esteem. I was helped to move into a council property, where I was given an opportunity to build a new life for myself and my kids.

The project helped me to become independent and empowered me by the various forms of support. They encouraged me to attend some training courses, one around confidence building, which was running at the time. It was a really hard and long journey, starting a fresh, living independently in the community, interacting and making friends. Without the help of the project, it would have been extremely difficult. I feel very grateful for all the support the Project has given me over the years.

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Story 2 - Homeless

I came from Pakistan where I had an arranged marriage. I started to live with my in-laws and had two children. My daughter had got learning disabilities and my in-laws were not supportive, my husband had several girlfriends, and used to spend most of his time with them.

I was referred onto the Apna Haq project by social services after my daughter was born. The project supported me while I was living with my mother in law. They helped me by providing emotional support when I required it most.

I was suffering from domestic violence from my mother in law, where I used to be emotionally blackmailed. I was ordered around as a slave as I had to do all household duties. My husband had run away with his girlfriend and left me with his mother.

The project had helped me get my benefits sorted, and while living with my in-laws I had to spend all my benefits on paying for the bills and necessities for the house. Even though I used to spend all my money on household goods, my mother in law was still very verbally abusive.

One day my mother in law decided to throw me out of the house with my children. I went to the homeless section and had spent the night with a friend.

Apna Haq helped me to get a council property, they helped with the tenancy agreement, sorted out the phone lines, electrics, explained the gas meter in addition helped me to purchase furniture & household goods such as carpets etc.

I later on developed a disability where they sorted out my benefits claims. Since then, after 4 years the project is still supporting me, I have got no problems now as I can do several things which I couldn’t before such as paying bills, reading / understanding importance of letters etc. when I first started to receive support from the project I had no Urdu written skills and no English language. The project suggested training courses, which I enrolled on and now am able to understand, read and write English.

The project also helped to rebuild my kid’s future as they used to help me to attend parent’s evenings, dentists and GPs appointments. They also provide trips and outings where my children have benefited a lot from, as they could not go out as much as no one could take them as I am disabled.

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Story 3 – Stay ??

The police referred me to the project. At that time, I did not have a visa to stay in the UK. I had several family problems; my husband left me and was living separately with his girlfriend while I still was living with my in-laws. My mother in law used to blame me for the fact that my husband had left home.

My mother in law never let me go out anywhere. She was very strict with the amount of food I could eat, she wouldn’t let me eat any cereals etc, and she used to lock the kitchen's cupboards at all times, having only one set of keys which she used to keep. My mother in law used to let me have a bath once a week, where she used to time how long I took, as she used to say that I use up a lot of hot water and she would be the one paying the bill. I never was allowed any toothbrush & toothpaste as I always used to pick used ones out from the bathroom bin.

I had to do all household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, ironing etc for all the family so I had to wake up early in the mornings. If I overslept, I would get into trouble. My mother in law used to shout at me because of petty things like me using too much cooking oil in the curry, and using too much washing up liquid. She always was watching me and giving nasty comments on anything that I was doing.

I was not allowed to speak to any one that was outside of the family and was never given any new clothes, I always was given my mother in laws and sister in laws old clothes. My mother in law used to complain when I used to cut her old clothes into my size as she used to say that I should wear them a she used to give them to me.

My in-laws always used to be afraid of the fact that I would leave them, so I used to get comments such as "where will you run off to? Refuges have got bad conditions, people get raped there you will have no life, no-one will help you with your stay".

When the police got the project involved - they helped me to leave and had put me into an Asian refuge who understood all my issues. My stay got sorted and now I have remarried and am living happily.

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Story 4 – Asylum/Refugee

A 32 year old service user, her husband and 2 children came to the U.K around 15-18 months ago, seeking asylum and fleeing domestic abuse and persecution from both her own family & in-laws in Pakistan. The service user suffers from frequent nightmares, lack of sleep and fear of deportation, she fears that she will be killed if she is found by her in-laws or family members. During one home visit, the service user relayed how it all began.

She was born in a small village called ‘Sahiwaal’ in Lahore, where she grew up and completed her graduation. She belonged to a strict/orthodox Shi’ite muslim family who were involved with leading Shi’ite mosque leaders. She fell in love with a man that lived in the neighborhood who was not only from a different cast (Qaum), but also from a Sunni muslim family background. She was too scared to tell anyone, as she knew that her family would never agree to the marriage, so the service user and her husband decided to elope, it didn’t matter to them which Islamic sect they belonged to. For seven years, she and her husband moved from place to place, different cities, towns and villages, as both her family and her husband’s family were hunting them down to kill them. The service user relayed that many times she had to change her name and wear a ‘burqah’ so that she would not been recognized. During their time on the run, the service user had 2 children (now 6 and 3 years old), and her fears escalated gravely. Not only was she scared for herself and husband’s life but now the lives of her 2 children. Her husband was attacked and beaten by gang members a few times, but somehow escaped and survived injuries. Police were involved but at the service user’s dismay they were often corrupt and quite easily bribed. At this point they were helped by someone who put them in touch with an agent who helps victims fleeing injustice and abuse to safer havens abroad. In February 2005 the Service user and her family arrived at Manchester Airport. The service user shared that for months she couldn’t believe that she had actually made it, and gotten to a place where she felt safe, knowing that that her family would not be harmed or killed. The service user had just about begun to settle into her new life when she discovered that her 3-year-old daughter had become critically ill and was rushed into hospital. Her daughter underwent major heart surgery, she suffers from complex heart & kidney problems and is now receiving medical care.

Since living in U.K, the service user shared that physically she has freedom to move around, however psychologically she still feels very much a ‘prisoner’ this time not at the hands of her family or in-laws but a prisoner held captive by the authorities/home office. She fears gravely about being deported, she shared that she feels useless as in Pakistan her family/in-laws decided her destiny and in the U.K the authorities /Home office decides her fate. Many times the service user has felt suicidal and wanted to give her life up, but the thought of her children and now severely ill daughter has deterred from it. The service user has been supported by Apna Haq since 4/5 months ago when she was referred initially. During the home visits and one to one meetings, she has expressed how much she is grateful to the support that the project has given her and how much she has moved on. She has said she would have been “lost” without the support of the Apna Haq Project.

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Story 5 – Force Marriage

Apna Haq has supported a service user who was forced to marry a man in Pakistan. When the project workers first met the service user, she was married and had a child. The service user mentioned that when she was a child her father had arranged the marriage of his daughter (the service user) to his nephew, so she was taken to Pakistan and forced into marriage at the age of 18. The service user was not happy at all at that time but was blackmailed by her mother, who threatened her with a knife to her stomach. In addition the service users father was violent towards her mother and was threatening to divorce her if his daughter did not agree to the marriage. The service user said when she went to Pakistan she was isolated for a full week, was not allowed to ring anyone back in England and wasn’t allowed to go out on her own. On the wedding night the service users husband raped her. When the service user told her mother, she told her that he had the right to have sexual relations with her after the “Nikkah” (marriage).

The service user came back to England and found out that she was pregnant, she got very upset and depressed and cut her arm, ending up in hospital. She didn’t want to bring her husband to England, but was blackmailed by her family, who said that she was bringing disgrace to the family, and that no-one would marry her sisters because of her. The service user brought her husband over to England, and once he got his stay he started to demand sex and began hitting her. The service user had panic attacks and contacted her GP, who then referred the service user to the Apna Haq Project. The service user decided to leave home, so the project accompanied her to a refuge.

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Contact Details

Phone:
01709 519212
01709 519211
Fax:
01709 519211
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