I came to the UK on a spouse visa with my child from a previous marriage.

We lived with the extended family. My new husband and in-laws were very strict. We were not allowed to go to the shops. We got called names and they always taunted us and made us feel like we owed them everything for giving us a new life.

We were not allowed to help ourselves to anything from the kitchen and we were told we should be grateful for every morsel of food we get because my family in Pakistan were very poor. I was always told that if I set a foot wrong or if my child made too much noise in the house they would deport us back to Pakistan. My husband and his family wanted all rights over me but I was not allowed to have my own thoughts or feelings.

The abuse continued on a daily basis and I became depressed. One evening I tried to defend my daughter and because I got in the way my husband pulled me by my hair and hit my head on the side of the wardrobe. I was not allowed to visit the doctor. I knew my child was upset and angry at me for putting us in this situation.

I felt helpless.

Once she told the school teacher she was really scared because her step father had threatened to kill her. The Police turned up at the house and took us both away.

When I arrived at the BWA Oasis Refuge I was very scared because my father in law had told me never to trust anyone and that if I did I would lose my child and get sent back to Pakistan. We came to the refuge with a social worker. I met my Support Workers there and they explained what support they could give us. I still remember them reassuring me we were safe and that we wouldn’t get separated.

I was really happy to see other Pakistani women and lots of children at the refuge and I was relieved that my Support Workers spoke the same language as me. My Support Worker’s understood everything I had gone through and I felt they understood what I went through and why I was scared to go back to Pakistan.

My Support Workers helped me to secure my immigration status and also helped me with all my benefits and housing. My daughter started at a new school and has made new friends. I have my own bank account now and even get the bus on my own into town.

My Support Workers accompanied me to my meetings with Social Services, Housing, the Jobcentre and Solicitors. They’ve also done a baby plan with me and introduced me to someone who will go to the hospital with me.

They’ve helped me to understand that what I went through is domestic abuse that it isn’t normal and is definitely not allowed. I know how to keep ourselves safe now.

I have made lifelong friends with the other women in this refuge. We shop together, watch TV, cook and share our meals and share our stories and experiences. My daughter has her own Support Worker and has been out to the cinema and loves to go to the big play room for play sessions. I don’t know what I would have done if we didn’t find this place.

I am happy and my daughter is happy. My baby is due in 2 months. We are safe. We don’t feel shame. We finally belong.