South Asian Women’s Refuge (SAWR) – Mrs S

Mrs S came to Stonewater’s South Asian Women’s Refuge (SAWR) fleeing extreme levels of violence and abuse from her husband and in-laws. Forced into a marriage to an older man, she arrived in the UK to find that her husband had three children who she was expected to care for.

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She was kept as a slave, forbidden to leave the house unaccompanied, beaten with a belt for not knowing how to operate a toaster or microwave, fed only very restricted rations, and forced to sleep on the floor. Prevented from seeing or contacting her family, she became very lonely and isolated. Mrs S couldn’t speak any English, did not know how to travel and had no knowledge about her rights or British culture.

Mrs S arrived at the refuge extremely traumatised, with physical injuries. Initially, she wouldn’t leave the refuge, but with intensive support, she was able to develop independent living skills, including speaking English and using public transport. She found her first trip alone empowering.

She engaged in numerous activities and enrolled onto courses. With our support, she got her Indefinite Leave to Remain, which was a lifeline for her. Mrs S eventually moved into her own accommodation, found work, and blossomed into a confident young woman who now successfully manages a tenancy.

She often returns to the refuge, to share her journey with others to give them hope and tells staff that they saved her life.