S’s story

S arrived in the UK on a spousal visa and soon realised that living with her extended family and husband would mean she would experience abuse on a daily basis. S was frightened she would be sent ‘back home’ if she left, and spoke little English to try and get help. Her husband and in-laws made repeated threats about having her deported and kept her passport. S was worried she may never be able to leave and that she may get pregnant which would trap her even more in the home. After a serious incident, the police had been called by the neighbours who identified that S was experiencing abuse from her husband and in-laws. For her safety, S was moved to SWA’s refuge/ She was very fearful and emotional as she had no family or friends in the UK, and had little contact with her family abroad. She made friends with some other women and started to grow in confidence daily. SWA supported her to have the right to remain in the UK and therefore be able to claim benefits, which enabled S to attend training and courses locally. She enjoyed the cultural events and activities, and would help staff get them ready. S took a while to be ready for independent housing as she didn’t feel confident enough to live on her own and manage her money. SWA helped her manage her money through support with budget plans and practical support with shopping and cooking to manage on a budget. SWA also supported S to attend meetings often and S became more confident in making her own decisions. She attended the groupwork programmes offered by SWA and attended many activities to make more friends. After quite some time, S was able to be more assertive in sharing her opinion about where she wanted to live after being in the SWA refuge which SWA thought was a real demonstration of her taking back control over things that would affect her life. S left the refuge.