A safe, just and equal world for women

Hafsa’s Story

In 2020, an NHS Mental Health Team referred Hafsa*, a woman in her twenties, to Advance. Hafsa’s father and brother physically abused her as a child and this and other forms of abuse – also perpetrated by her mother – have continued into adulthood.

Five years ago, the abuse escalated, when Hafsa’s mother discovered she was in a relationship with a man her mother did not approve of. Her mother’s objection was partly due to her wish for Hafsa to marry the son of a family friend. Hafsa expressed concern that she could be forced to marry this man her mother chose.

Her family’s abuse escalated during lockdown, when Hafsa was working from home: they restricted her use of the household wi-fi, and would not allow her to cook or access food. Hafsa experienced depression and suicidal thoughts.

Hafsa is a full-time student and, before the pandemic, was able to escape the abusive environment. During lockdown, she had to make up reasons for leaving the house, all subject to her family’s approval.

Through Advance’s support, Hafsa has been able to access specialist counselling to support her around her mental health needs. Advance’s Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) has also been working with her regarding safety planning, specifically around a potential forced marriage. Her advocate is also liaising with housing teams and the police on her behalf, and continues to provide emotional support.

Hafsa says she now has a better understanding of abuse but, although she feels better for having access to information and dedicated support, she is not yet able and ready to leave. Advance is helping her get to a point at which she will be safe.

*Not her real name

Read more about our Domestic Abuse service

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