Amrita sought safety in one of our refuges for women fleeing domestic abuse

Our womens refuges provide safe and secure accommodation for women escaping abuse. Here's the story of one of our residents...

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Amrita* was coerced into an arranged marriage, moving from India to marry and live with a man she had not previously met and extremely conscious of the pressure on her to engage in the marriage.

Upon arriving in the UK and moving in with her husband, Amrita soon realised that physical and emotional abuse was to be a constant in her life if she were to stay with her husband; with him using her lack of network and independence as a means of controlling her and the use of physical harm to demonstrate when he deemed her behaviour to be unacceptable. This pattern of abuse led to several threats from Amrita’s husband that she would be deported or killed, and ultimately he attempted to strangle her.

With no friends or relatives to lean on Amrita felt completely isolated but also realised she needed to make a change.

Going to the Police, Amrita sought refuge and was assessed by the local Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA), and then in June 2017 she was referred to one of Stonewater’s specialist refuges for women fleeing domestic abuse; moving out of county to ensure complete anonymity and reduce the risk of further abuse.

How our refuge helped

Amrita was provided with intense support in the first instance to enable her to digest and reflect on the abuse she had suffered, and to realise that she could have a better life. With specialist support from the refuge team she developed her confidence and her aspirations grew, as well as her knowledge of local amenities and community groups. She was also supported to access GP appointments to address the physical results of her abuse.

After building her emotional resilience, Amrita was supported to apply for a role in a local school, and has been offered a post subject to a DBS check. In the meantime, she has also become a volunteer at the local library and Citizens Advice Bureau, and continues to act as a role model for others in the refuge who aspire to enter employment and gain the independence they so deeply want; running art workshops in the refuge and acting as a peer mentor.

Amrita is now on the waiting list for her own home and is considering both social housing and the private rented market; as once she is in employment she strives to have a place to call her own.

What might have happened if it wasn’t for supported housing?

With no support network around her and suffering severe domestic abuse, Amrita had little option regarding her housing, and sought the Police as her first point of support. Without the ability for local agencies to refer people, such as Amrita, to specialist refuges away from the perpetrator of their abuse, it’s likely that they will remain caught in a cycle of abuse with no means of leaving.

What does supported housing mean to Amrita?

Stonewater’s women’s refuge provides safety, security and support for Amrita, and a network of other women who have faced similar abuse.

Supported housing has empowered Amrita to remove herself from a highly abusive relationship, re-build her confidence, and create a lifestyle that she aspires to have. Through her volunteer work, peer mentoring and future work within a local school she now hopes to live independently and actively participate in her local community.

* An alias has been used to protect the identity of our resident.