Three years ago, I met this guy and we began dating. He started to tell me, “we need to get married because in my culture we cannot date” and stuff like that. In the beginning I was very firm, like no, I’m not going to marry anybody, I don’t want to do this. But I don’t know, it was just a fear to be alone again or the promise of something good or whatever. So, I thought ‘well **** it, whatever is going to happen is going to happen’.
The marriage with my partner was very difficult, very unstable – shady let’s say. I didn’t know where he was, who his friends were, I didn’t meet his family, nothing at all in the two and a half years we were together. He was very abusive, very stubborn all the time. I needed to tell him where I was, who I was with. I wasn’t allowed to bring any friends to my house. I couldn’t be with males and he was getting crazy jealous. I couldn’t go outside without him choosing my clothes or saying things like, “you didn’t brush your hair” or “I’m not going out with you like this”. He had to be on top of the situation all the time or have the last word.
I was paying everything with my salary for both of us – all the bills, all the food, everything. He would ask what money I’d spent and how much I had left. Checking my bank account and saying, “why did you use Uber, where did you go out? Oh, you went to a pub, what were you doing, who were you with?” He said he didn’t want his wife to work but later when I did stop working, he didn’t take it very well.
I’ve been a chef for 10 years and this kind of industry is quite bad for women. I had ups and downs in my last job – I kind of just broke. So last year I stopped work and haven’t worked since. Even going into my kitchen will give me a panic attack. Because of this we applied for universal credit as a couple and then we would use all the money on our rent. I wasn’t getting anything extra so all my money was going there. I couldn’t go out, nothing.
“I just needed to end everything”
It was many things that spilled the glass. I realised that all along he was mentally abusing me or punishing me. I’ve been used to that since I was a kid, so you don’t really realise what’s going on. I have certain trauma with parts of my body, and from the beginning I told him if you touch here, I’m just going to have a panic attack or throw up. Even though he knew, he kept doing those things just to tease me or something. At a certain point it was something coming in the back of my mind, like how can someone who chose to marry you and be part of your life do something that is making you suffer?
Inside, I’m a very strong woman because I’ve had to fight so many things during my life. But because of him and because of the situation, I think my light just went off. I wasn’t a person anymore, I wasn’t being myself. In the end, I couldn’t stand it anymore and I didn’t care about the consequences. My mental health was really, really bad and I just needed to end everything.
We had a meeting and I said, “I don’t want to be with you anymore, I can’t handle this.” He just started blackmailing me, gaslighting, anything to make me feel like I was crazy. I took a luggage with a few things and went to my friend’s house to live. I was a month sleeping on her couch and in that time we had a few more meetings. It was like progressing the situation – progressing to the point that he showed he literally just married me for convenience to get his visa and the right to work. Because of that, divorcing before the three years was going to destroy all his plans so he said I was doing this for revenge, I was going to destroy his family’s life, opportunities and all these things. In the end, it was a voice in my head that just said, ‘what about you?’
“I’m here today because of Advance”
When I was referred to Advance, every day someone was calling me, supporting, talking to me. I was still suicidal and in a really bad shape. No money, full of debt, things with the lawyers, still not able to cook. It was horrible.
Advance referred me to places and to their Debt and Finance Coordinator, so she helped me with budgeting. They gave me food bank referrals and all the information available that other people didn’t give me before. I was having counselling with them, someone called me every week. We talked about the progress I was making, how I was feeling, what was going on. It helped a lot because it wasn’t judgemental, no pressure.
Since I discovered the women’s centre, I’ve been trying to come to workshops. It’s helping me to come out of the house and do something for myself – try to recognise how talented I am and maybe even discover new things about myself. Also, it’s good to come and talk with people that are in a similar situation. You feel like they’re where you were before so you can share the information as well and say “look, this is not the end”. I was there and I’m here now – you kind of realise the accomplishment. I’m here today because of Advance.
Since we started supporting Jasmine, she has managed to move into a new home and pay off all her debt. She’s now focusing on improving her mental health with professional help and planning for her future.