Originally from Cameroon in Africa, Pat (not her real name) came to England in 2015 shortly after marrying her husband at the age of 12.
Pat experienced abuse for a long time at the hands of her husband and his family, culminating in her three children being placed in foster care. She then came to live at Umuada, one of our refuges for women who are experiencing domestic violence. Soon after, Pat found out she was pregnant. Because her existing children had been taken away from her, she feared sharing this news with staff.
Staff at Umuada have supported Pat to:
- Work through the effects of the domestic abuse she experience and how this affected her and her children
- Understand the legal issues around the children that were placed in care
- Create a birth plan for her pregnancy
- Establish a network of friends in the local area
- Develop a personal safety plan.
Staff also worked with Pat to secure her immigration status, helping her obtain indefinite leave to remain - a process that can be very complex for women who have been through domestic abuse.
Pat told us how the support she's had has helped: "It has helped me learn many things and if beginning a new relationship it would help me identify a bad man, and to quit the relationship fast and not continue with it. I now recognise that the behaviours of my husband were not good and it was not normal - he hurt me in many ways. I can see it has had an impact on my children. I do not want my children to think that this is normal behaviour and I do not want them to accept it in their relationships when they are older. It makes me feel sad that I did not recognise that these abusive behaviours were not normal, when living with my children."
Pat's now looking forward to a brighter future.