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When 22 year old Aisha called on a Saturday afternoon she was crying. She had fled from her home because her family were trying to force her into a marriage in Pakistan in a few weeks’ time, and she was only a few miles from her house. Aisha said she didn’t know what to do and spoke about being attacked by a family member when she tried to leave in the past. She had reported this to the police and was disbelieved because they said it was her word against theirs; she said she had lost all faith in them.

Aisha spoke about physical abuse, financial abuse and emotional abuse from multiple family members that has made her feel worthless. She said that she was feeling suicidal; concerned about bringing shame on the family she thought that her only options were to go through with the marriage or take her own life. A call handler spoke to her as a survivor of forced marriage and supported her with how she was feeling, able to also share her own experiences.

Whilst one call handler stayed on the phone to support Aisha, another made phone calls to refuges when Aisha decided that she wanted to leave and start a new life. Unfortunately, because it was a weekend, none of the refuges accessible to Aisha were available so we spoke to her about the police and how they may be able to help, however, due to her past experiences, Aisha was very reluctant. We got in contact with a specialist officer who gave a direct number for Aisha to call and reassurances that they would not speak to her family and would help her to find somewhere safe to stay as a priority.

By the end of the call, Aisha said that she could see a light at the end of the tunnel and even made a few jokes. She said that she felt confident in speaking to the police officer and was going to call them straight away.

Sunil was brought to our attention by his partner who called stating she was concerned about him. His family were described as controlling and had practically disowned him due to him leaving home. He is a recovering alcoholic and has been hospitalised previously. His partner expressed her concerns as she felt he was at risk of a forced marriage to a woman from abroad that was the same cast as him. She added the whole family were abusive and violent and how four generations lived in one house and the elders took the salaries of everyone.

She decided to call the police to intervene but then decided she did not want them to attend the property. We therefore advocated to the police on her behalf and suggested they didn’t attend as this would increase the risks. Response was they would consider risks but would have to do a safe and well check. Victim did not disclose anything when they arrived and they confirmed he had been married previously to someone else- which his girlfriend appeared to not be aware of.

The victim got back in touch with us a while later via a friend stating he was fleeing honour based abuse from his family and wanted support in accessing housing. With his permission, we advocated to the council whereby he wanted to access housing and reinforced the risks and concerns surrounding his case. The case is still ongoing, as he is waiting for housing to become available so that he can flee his family. Our support continues.

Amar called for support explaining that he was gay and his family were not accepting of his sexuality. They were pressuring him to marry and had made him have exorcisms to ‘cure’ him of being gay. He had a boyfriend- whom his family were unaware of and had plans to flee with his boyfriend abroad. He was controlled by his family and not allowed to go out, socialise etc. He had also spoken about having long hair and being made to shave it off by his family as a means of control and reinforcing that they didn’t approve of his sexuality.

He spoke about attending counselling and how this had helped but brought a lot of emotions back. He thought back to a time when his family were ‘normal’ and there was no abuse. He felt the abuse had become somewhat ‘normal’ as he had been subject to honour based abuse for a long time. He wanted to wait to leave but feared he could not go abroad with his family’s permission. He also felt his boyfriend was his only support but had become paranoid about their relationship and feared his boyfriend would leave him. He didn’t feel able to leave alone and felt trapped in the situation.

We provided ongoing emotional support to him and reinforced options available i.e. refuge, reporting to police, FMPO etc but he didn’t wish to proceed with any options. We left our support open to him and encouraged him to call at any time.

Raheel was a British Pakistani female who had been divorced once previously due to being in an abusive marriage. Her family then forced her to marry a cousin in Pakistan telling her that because she had been divorced once it would be unlikely anybody would want to marry her again. She explained that she went ahead with the marriage to find out later that her husband only married her for visa purposes.

Eventually they ended up with two daughters and after some miscarriages her husband forced her to go through IVF treatment so that they could conceive a boy. When she eventually fell pregnant her husband said that if she was having a girl then she would be having an abortion. Raheel explained that her in-laws and her husband were already very emotionally abusive towards her two daughters and did not play a part in their lives, the caller did everything for her daughters. The caller was extremely anxious going for the scan, however the scan revealed that she was in fact having a boy.

The abuse continued and the male child was also subject to abuse. The female got out by calling the Police and social services were involved. Mother and children are safe today with the help of authorities.

Leah is a British female who had been married to an Indian man, when she met him he had only been in the UK a few months, working. The relationship started when they were both in their early 20’s, she is now in her late 30’s. There were no repercussions from her family about their relationship, however, most of his family were in India and as far as she was aware seemed to agree with the relationship. She married him a year later, and he obtained his British citizenship.

Now she reflects, he had always been emotionally abusive limiting contact with family and friends, making her feel guilty for going out or what she was wearing etc during her first pregnancy she was quite ill and was not able to carry out her chores as she normally would and how he expected as she needed to rest. When she confronted him about this he slapped her. He later apologised and tried to justify his actions, but the abuse physical and emotional continued for some years, she had two more children and only left him when the children were in their early teenage years.

She felt unable to report to the Police due to fear of her husband and no awareness of services. The children stayed with their father as he was financially more stable than she was, he had never allowed her to work, and she believes he offered them a lifestyle she could not. She also mentioned that he would take control of the children’s upbringing and believes as a result of this she was never able to form a relationship with them. He would often send the children to stay with his extended family during holidays if he was going to be at work so they wouldn’t stay with her.

She has tried to contact her children in the past but her ex -husband and his family threatened her and told her to stay away. The children have also adapted this attitude and have said they want nothing to do with their mother. For a short while, she lived close by and often saw her ex-husband, children and his family in the local area. Her ex would harass her and she had to call the Police to warn him and some of his family members as she felt fearful. The Police sent out warnings to the perpetrators and advised the woman about safe accommodation.

Leah found this distressing and she has now moved.

Safia aged 20 explained her situation to us which was that she was being forced to marry and the pressure was mostly prevalent from her mother who was due to visit Bangladesh and this is when she thought her mother could potentially be seeking a spouse for her. She wanted to know what her options were as she had already considered leaving, but she knew she did not want to leave at that point but in a few weeks.

We explained her options to her from which she said refuge would be the best option. We told her we would definitely support her through this.

We gave her some safety advice, telling her she could call anytime in between if she had any questions or needed to speak to someone.

Safia them made contact with us again 2 weeks later and explained her circumstances had changed and that she needed to leave that day, the situation had worsened and her mum had returned from Bangladesh and there would be talks of marriage.

She was sure she wanted to go into refuge.

Karma nirvana were able to locate a refuge and put together a safety plan for this female and help her to leave safely, which involved getting in touch with the Police to help her leave her families house safely.