This is a true story of a woman BWP were privileged to support. It is a story of perseverance, resilience and great strength from a woman who felt trapped in abuse. To ensure the safety of the survivor we have changed her name for the purpose of this article.
Dayna called our support line and disclosed she was experiencing mental and emotional abuse from her husband and there had been physical altercations in the past. Dayna wanted to leave her husband and take their two children under the age of 10 with her. The abuse began when Dayna left her country aged 20 and came over to England to marry her husband. He was demanding and would treat her like a servant. She became pregnant and felt isolated, being completely separated from her family.
Dayna enjoyed working and educating herself, getting a degree and a masters. Her husband did not like this and repeatedly told her she was a bad mum and wife for not looking after them like she should do. On occasions, he would hit her and would put her down to stop her being independent. 13 years after marrying her husband she rang BWP and it took a period of 6 months to help her leave.
A safety plan was done and code words and emergency measures put in place to ensure Dayna and the children’s safety whilst BWP helped her to leave. Dayna considered refuge but decided she did not want to leave the only place in England she knew and where her children were settled. She decided to look for a private rented property. Dayna began to collect documents and then managed to secretly get herself a job where she could teach from home when her husband was at work. Dayna began to save this money ready for when she could leave. Weeks passed and Dayna continued to work and save money whilst her husband would constantly blame and criticize her. The tension at home increased as her husband could see he was losing control and would try to tighten his grip. He began checking her phone and looking through paperwork. For safety we stopped phone conversations and everything was discussed via email.
Dayna became concerned about the effects the situation was having on their children and did everything in her power to earn as much money as she could for private rented, but it was not enough. She needed over £1200 for deposit, rent in advance and admin fees. Her husband controlled all the finances and received the children’s benefits so Dayna had to keep working and saving in secret. As he received Child Benefit it meant that Dayna could not get Housing Benefit, something she needed if she was to move out. At this point BWP applied to a charity and asked for £1000 to help Dayna to leave. BWP then assisted Dayna to attend a CAB appointment for a benefits check and housing appointment with the council so Dayna could get further information and options. We then received confirmation and a cheque for £1000 for Dayna. She could not believe it. After many attempts failed to secure a property this empowered her to keep searching for houses. Dayna then got lucky and found an affordable part-furnished 4-bedroom property, her husband went away for two weeks and everything fell into place for Dayna to leave with the children whilst he was away! The £1000 was paid and the remaining balance and removal costs covered through Dayna’s hard earned savings.
When her husband returned he began to harass her for contact with the children. They met in a public carpark and he would pick the children up and drop them off there. Dayna would make sure she was not followed and would detour her way back home to ensure her address would not be compromised. BWP assisted Dayna to set up all new benefits, register her family with a GP and referred her to places for furniture and home items. Dayna mentioned she would love to be able to foster children, something her husband would never have allowed and having a 4-bedroom property now makes this a possibility. Dayna can now work and study when she likes and her children can enjoy a peaceful home.
Dayna said to us when her support ended: “Thank you so much for everything. Without your support I would never have been able to have the courage to leave or even take the first step. I have done 10% of the work and you have done the rest, thank you so much.”
It was one of those cases where I got a chilled feeling when the lady who’d just been referred to me was describing her situation with her husband. I completed a risk assessment form (DASH) which we as outreach workers do for all new referrals. Her score was only medium risk, not supposedly serious enough … Continue reading Coercive Control