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A Survivor

I have been asked to provide a summary of my journey on the road to becoming a Women’s Welfare Ambassador and to be honest this is one the most demanding things I have ever done. I am not a person given to self-reflection and ruminating about my issues but this opportunity has allowed me to see just how much I have endured and how resilient my spirit must be. Being a WWA has shown me how necessary it is to have someone to talk to who will not judge, criticise, or dismiss you as it takes a lot of courage to open up and ask for help. Like many women I never realised that many of the problems I faced in my life fell under the term of “abuse,” nor that there were others going through the same thing and feeling the same isolation that I did. This is why I am proud to offer the care, support, advice and understanding which were not readily available when I needed it most. Safeguarding was not around when I was growing up so it seemed totally normal to me that I was beaten and locked up for minor mistakes by parents who thought it was normal too. I also never spoke up when the local religious leader would touch me inappropriately, nor when an “uncle” would make me do things which felt wrong and shameful and which were never done in the presence of others. These feelings of shame also surfaced when I started work and faced sexual harassment, but never thought to “create a fuss” as it was normal and I could be fired for complaining. By this time I was cowed enough to be susceptible to all the issues surrounding honour-based violence and gave in to a forced marriage which was actually a turning point. After a few weeks I refused to accept that my husband had the right to rape and hit me just because he wanted and I left him. You would think that I had learned my lesson but I married again and after a few years of not recognising that it was an abusive relationship, we moved to Pakistan with our daughters, where I once again became submissive, scared and totally dependent on my husband. I tried to leave several times but could not until I discovered his long term infidelity and this was the deal breaker which provided the second turning point in my life and I bought my children back home to England. Words such as power, control, emotional blackmail, lies, secrets, inferiority complex, degrading, humiliation, tears, fear, suicidal, mental health, love, compassion, kindness, support, reprisals, shame and so many more, these are words which have been with me for so many years but I will not say that I am a victim—I am a survivor! I came across the WWA project by way of a lucky coincidence while looking for work experience recommended by the job centre and I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to help other women through their times of trouble. I am still looking for a job within the field of Domestic Abuse, in particular around HBV and FM and I am currently employed in paid part time work in the meantime. I am also a volunteer at a Domestic Abuse helpline where I use my language and communication skills, as well as my empathy and understanding of the issues faced by women in the local community. The WWA project has given me key skills and qualifications to support my endeavour to become a support worker in this field and I am determined to work in this industry in the near future.

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