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.