A-Z

Yasmin

Age at interview: 32
Brief Outline: Yasmin left Pakistan on her mothers’ wishes, to join her older sister in the UK. Terminally ill, her mother wished to see Yasmin settled and arranged for her to marry a first cousin living in the UK. Yasmin endure thirteen years of sexual and financial abuse. Her husband’s controlling behaviour led her to feel like their home was a ‘prison’. When Yasmin’s husband threatened her with sharp knives she fled, with the support of the police and Women’s Aid.
Background: Yasmin is a 32 year old British Asian woman living with her three children in a Housing Association house. She left her family in Pakistan when she was seventeen, to live in the UK with her married sister and to enter into an arranged marriage with the brother of her sister’s husband. She has little education, no work experience, and has recently taught herself to speak English.

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Yasmin described her childhood as ‘perfect, ideal, like a story-tale’. With two much older sisters Yasmin was the ‘baby’ of the family, getting lots of loving attention and a close companionship with her father. Her move to the UK was encouraged by her terminally ill mother who wanted to see Yasmin settled and married to a member of the family. Soon after her arrival in the UK, her sister’s first child became gravely ill and died. In a state of shock, Yasmin agreed to a rapid marriage.

Yasmin endured thirteen years of sexual abuse and controlling behaviour from her husband, which began soon after they were married. She was forced to have sex on a daily basis when her husband arrived home from work, drunk and demanding. His behaviour was shocking for a devout Moslem woman like Yasmin. He moved her away from her sisters’ flat that they were sharing, when the other couple started to pick up on his behaviour.

Yasmin described her new home as a ‘prison’ and she became deeply depressed. She never went out, she had no money and her only social contact was an occasional visit from her sister, who encouraged her to stay in the marriage in order to retain family respect. Once she started having children, Yasmin could not buy milk or food as her husband controlled the finances. He forced her to have sex in return for his agreeing to buy basic essentials and take-away meals.

Her husband attended all medical appointments with her so that she would not have a chance to disclose anything about her home life. The only time she spent out of the house was a short walk to take the children to school. Over the years, Yasmin could not confide in anyone. At family gatherings, her husband acted the part of devoted husband and father.

Following an escalation of the sexual abuse and a serious miss-carriage, Yasmin decided the relationship must end. She refused to have sex and sought an Islamic divorce, citing her husband’s drinking and gambling. Her husband reacted with physical violence, threatening her with sharp knives. Yasmin eventually fled with the help of the police and Women’s Aid, after a parent at the school slipped her a card for the local ‘One-Stop-Shop’ DVA centre. She spent nine months in a refuge before moving to a rented house.

Yasmin feels strongly that there should be more education for girls about relationships, and more education for professionals about DVA, with a more pro-active stance in intervening. At one point, she tried to talk honestly to a Health Visitor (HV) about her home life but the HV did not act on the information. Similarly she feels that the school did not follow up on unusual signs, such as Yasmin’s absence from all school activities and meetings.
 

When she finally got away from her husband, Yasmin discovered that she officially ‘did not exist’ as everything, including child benefit, was in his name.

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So now I am learning more about my religion.

Right.

More about the England law, and more about the … until I left my partner I never knew I can get a child benefit or I am register with my children as a Mother, yes or no. So when I called the first time [unclear] people, they … the first thing they said is ‘You don’t exist in our papers.’

Yes. Mm. You don’t exist. Wow.

And he make sure he give me that reminder, ‘Oh if you leave me you will end up begging on the streets. And when you’re on the street you have to sell your body for either…’

Right. I guess you thought he was right?

Yes.

You did, yeah. Yeah.

I thought then I might have to sell my body too many peoples…

Yes.

… now it’s only one.

Yes, yes. Yes.

So he controlled me … my mind … my body, my finance …

Yes.

… my social life, everything. My emotions, everything.
 

Yasmin had to adopt a pattern of paying for anything she needed with sex or, as she put it, ‘sleeping with’ her husband.

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I didn’t have money at all.

Nothing at all?

Nothing.

So he … controlled everything?

Yes. So my son was breastfeeding so he didn’t have to like do lots of … the, on nappies, on milk, or on every other thing I was relying on him, like calling him if you can …

If you can get these things?

These things.

Yeah. Yeah.

And he will get it. But if I say again and again, like if I have like three nappies left …

Uh-huh.

… and I just keep giving him reminder he will get quite annoyed.

Right.

And then if he is annoyed he is not going to buy anything.

So what would happen?

So I was like … more in that pressure. I want that nappies, I want that milk.

Yes.

And, okay, he … he might buy me the take away, but what I will do … like a few baby foods you have to make with the milk.

Yes of course.

This and that.

Yes of course.

But if … then there was a situation I didn’t have any option, not even nappies or milk. Because he will come home when we are sleeping, early morning, and he will not leave home by four o’clock without talking. Anything. But in order to get things, ask him to do … I have to sleep with him.

Right. Yeah. Okay. Mm.

So that’s the thing I adopted, if I need something I have to sleep with him.

Yeah, yeah.

If I want to see my son to have toys, have food, have clothes …

You had to pay for it with sex?

Yeah.

Yes. So that was what your life was like at that time?

Yes.
 

Yasmin said she would rather die than continue to sleep with her partner.

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And he said that he want to sleep, he’s really tired. He slept. I didn’t have any other option to sleep somewhere else.

Uh-huh.

I waited the whole night. Then my son was sleeping on his same bed, so I didn’t kind of not … he start asking me again… ‘Let’s …’, you know, ‘… make up everything back’, and this and that, ‘I’ll surely change.’ That’s promised to happen so many times but I was not … I said ‘No.’ He ran to kitchen, grabbed two knives… came back, and I was standing. He put, pointed both knives on my neck, and I said … ‘I prefer to die. But I’m not going to sleep with you. I prefer death.’

Yes.

He said, ‘Well think about these children’, my son was sleeping in the same room. My two year old … two and … nearly three year old son was sleeping in the same room … which he was pointing knives at my neck. I say ‘I prefer death …’ ‘… I won’t be sleeping with you.’ And he said ‘Well think about the children.’ I said, ‘There are lots of children that don’t have parent where they’ve survived. They’ll still survive.’

‘They will, I don’t want to sleep with you anymore.’ 
 

Yasmin talked about the mental ‘scars’ which have stayed with her and affected her confidence and self-esteem.

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How are you … are you alright in yourself?

I’m fine. The thing is … you know, every time you … have that so many scars in your memory …

Yes. Yes.

… even though they are only … you know, scars …

Yes.

… they don’t hurt you, but when you look at the scar the whole story will run out in your mind, oh I got this because of that, that always there.

The whole story runs out, yeah. Yeah.

That’s always hard. Sometimes you kind of say, ‘Oh how stupid I was.’ Sometimes you say, well … if you should … that time I go for hug. That every time you think differently.

Mm, yeah, yeah.

You can’t always blame yourself, ‘Oh how stupid’, or how weak I was. Every time you look at that scar it’s … with the time, with the confidence, with the self-esteem, every time your mind tell you a different story.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah I understand what you mean, yeah. 

So yeah, if I see … when I’m sleeping, because my daughter, she notice a few times … Daddy used to drive Mummy from one bed … if I used to sleep with her ...

Right.

… a few nights to be able to be safe.

Yes.

But he, either pick me up to take to other room, or either drag me.

Yes.

Either way. So … now they don’t have to see that anymore.

Mm. Good. 

I don’t have to sleep with him to get my children … McDonald’s.

Yes. Good.

So yes there are lots of positive things, but scars are there.

Right. Of course they are, yes.

So I think with the mood swings, with … your confidence and self-esteem level, every time you tell different to yourself because of this happened.

Yes. Do you think it’s had any lasting effect on your actual health?

It does kind of make you drained. There are a few days when I feel ‘Oh gosh, I can’t do anything.’
 

Yasmin would return from the nursery drop-off to find her husband drunk and asleep and her baby screaming.

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Sometimes … in the morning, because he was mostly drunk, so in the morning I get opportunity while he’s sleeping to take them to nursery.

Right. Yes.

So when he want to have argument he will say, ‘Oh, why didn’t you wake me up? Why you went out?’

Uh-huh.

But if, because that’s giving him a break as well, to get up in that … drunk mode, he was okay as well, me walking my son to the nursery. But he kept … like my, I had give birth to my daughter …

Yes.

… and then he says, ‘Oh, don’t take your daughter out with you, leave her home because it’s cold.’ So … in order to walk my son I have to leave my daughter with him.

Oh. And how did that make you feel?

In, in the beginning I thought he start to have a little care about me, oh he’s thinking …

Yeah. Yeah.

… he’s like giving time to my daughter.

Yes, yes.

But … I, like over the time I just realise it’s just … he’s making sure I’m always going to come back.

Right, yes.

Because sometimes I come back and my daughter is … she’s crying and he’s not even awake.

No, gosh.

So obviously I’m going to feel bad, my daughter is crying out of her lungs and the Father is drunk sleeping, cannot even hear her.

Yes.

So then either I have to leave her with him, or either make him wake up.

Yes.

To leave my child to school. And then he will say, ‘Oh why you have to pick the morning shift? Why you couldn’t like take the afternoon one?’, and I said, ‘There wasn’t any place’ and this and that.
 

Yasmin’s friend at the school gate gave her a card for the local support agency. She had to do this in secret, for fear of putting herself in danger.

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When I was going to that school on everyday basis … I have a neighbour, she’s Irish …

Uh-huh.

… she live few houses away from me … she work in the council. She asked me many times, ‘Let’s go for a pizza’, because her children and my children are in similar classes and similar years.

Uh-huh, uh-huh.

 ‘Let’s go out, have cup of tea. Let’s go library, there is a reading challenge, there’s this challenge.’

Yes, yeah.

Or your … my son have very wonky hair, teeth …

Yes.

… and she always, ‘Oh you should go to dentist.’

Yes.

Oh I … said to her I’m not even registered at a dentist. And she … always says hello and hi. And when I went home and I realised nobody can help me, she asked me, ‘What’s wrong? Surely something is wrong?’

And then she started coming to my house my husband didn’t like it, he … accuses me, oh you want to have life like white people, miniskirts, boyfriends, and this and that. So he didn’t say anything to her, but surely she can sense he is not … happy … meet with it. She gave me one stop shop card.

Oh right.

She hugged me.

Right.

Because my husband, he was on the road in that car slowly …

Right.

… watching.

Yes.

She slipped that card and she asked me, ‘Can you read this card?’, and ‘Please tear the card and flush it.’ Because she knew that that … she never knew when he was living with me or not, because he was under the mosque command not to visit me in home.

Right, yeah. Had she been through something herself, is that why she knew?

Yeah, but she works in … like social services.

Right, yes.

She gave me the card. The card doesn’t say anything, it’s just says ‘One Stop Shop’ and then underneath it says ‘Domestic violence free helpline’ and this and that.

Right.

I start calling them. I explain my situation. They can pretty much … make me like pack up my dresses, pack up your children things, pack up something which you can’t leave.
 

Yasmin had been allowed no freedom in her marriage. During nine months in a refuge she learnt how to survive in a practical sense but felt un-supported when she left.

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And where are you getting your support from now? Are you getting any?

I don’t get any support now.

No. 

The time I left the refuge I didn’t get any support at all.

Right.

So they tried and help us in nine months to show me how to get the bus, how to get … Google Maps and check which bus to go where, and check … show me how to look the maps. Get admission forms filled for my children to go new schools. Walk them with that confidence nothing going to happen. Stop looking behind your shoulder all the time. They, they taught me lots of stuff, but … when you’ve lived your life more than twelve … nearly thirteen years … nine months are not enough to change old habits.

Yes. Yeah. Who helped you get the court … molestation order you had …?

The refuge people, they provided a solicitor.
 

Yasmin was shocked that the hospital would let her go in a weak condition following major blood loss.

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I mean when I went in hospital I had eight point something in blood …

Uh-huh.

… and when they done the morning blood test it was four point something.

Gosh, mm.

After all the D&C and after all … everything. I lost half of my body blood, and I was not with …

No.

… I was like faint. The nurse who came into that, and she’s checked the blood pressure and she got panicked. She rushed to call everybody.

Yes.

At that time I had 21 glucose and three bottles of blood.

Right.

But he was like, ‘Oh you can’t look after her’ and this and that, ‘I’m taking my wife home.’ And he did took me home [laughs].

He took you home?

Because he got so much concern about it, they might … because they had D&C and everything, they might ask me something and I might … 

But you didn’t, so you didn’t get a chance to talk?

When I came home and I said, ‘That’s it.’ And he make sure I’m not telling my sister and sister-in-law it was miscarriage, and just make sure … ‘You just tell them oh, I was not feeling well.’ So he took me home, and I’m shocked how hospital let me go …

Yes.

… in that condition.

Yes. Yeah.

They shouldn’t.

No.
 

Yasmin was escorted away by a police officer and had to trust that the officer would later bring her children, who were her ‘only wealth’.

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I called the police, they came there, I give the statement, come back home. The statement was so strong and so … I even didn’t realise what I am telling, what … really that can affect somebody. The officer called me within a few … hours. She was a high command officer.

Right.

She read statement, and I said, ‘That statement, whatever I said that’s … tell the truth.’

Yes.

And she said she wanted to see me in home. I said, ‘You can’t see me home, my partner is just sat outside the house, he can be any time there.’ And she said, ‘I won’t come in police dress, I won’t come in police car …’

Right.

‘… I just wanted to see you.’

Yes.

I said, ‘Okay.’ I don’t know if she wanted to check my … mind level, because the …

Right.

… statement quite, he put the knives on my neck, he …

Yes, yeah.

… had, was, was physically , it was too much, there was too … too many things.

Yes.

She just wanted to see I made all these stories. Or I really am, I’m suffering with these all problems. She came home and she asked me many things and I replied this and that, my son is in this school, my daughter is in this school, one child is here with me.

She didn’t let me waste any second. She said, ‘Where is your passport?’ She said … ‘Do you have any?’ I said, ‘Yes somewhere here in the drawers.’

She emptied the whole drawer on the floor and she said, ‘Pick up your things, you’re going with me [laughs].’

Wow.

And I said, ‘I can’t leave house without my children.’ ‘This is the only wealth I’ve got.’

She help me to grab my phone, charger, make sure I get the charger, make sure I get some travel documents.

She asked me to look if I have any money at … in the home there was like a few moneyboxes of my children, I grabbed that money. She said, ‘I promise … I bring you your children, but you come with me.’ I just wanted to leave that man so much.

Yes.

I even didn’t make sure my children come. She promised and she looked really convincing, I just … left my house without them [crying].

Yes.

Having that fear, oh God my children are going to come or not.
 

Yasmin, under threat from her husband, was forced to lie about his behaviour once her sister had become concerned.

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So he was working that time in a good restaurant, and was well known and people wished to work there.

Yeah. Yeah.

He was struggling to keep up with the job.

Right.

And… he just quit, and I thought okay, and he was not like coming home on time, and then he was making me to lie to my sister, ‘Oh he was in the work’, and he wasn’t.

So this was in the first year of your marriage?

Yeah.

And were you working at that time or …?

No, no, I was like completely new …

Yes.

… no, I couldn’t even speak, so… because everybody was keep coming to, you know… support my sister, all, you know, family and friends.

Oh, so you were talking your usual language at home?

Yes. So then he started to make me lie to my sister, ‘Oh no, he was in, he was sleeping.’

Yes.

And this … and then obviously I’m not going to lie to my sister.

No.

But then I’m in that situation, what shall I do?

Yes.

So I did tell my sister the truth …

Yes.

…he wasn’t there but he wish me to tell you this, and she got really concerned.

But she talked to her husband, and then he said, ‘Oh, she’s only seventeen and you shouldn’t …’ you know, ‘They are both sister, you can’t do this. This is not how to develop the relationship, you should come on time and give her time, take her outside.’ You know, ‘The time she is here is very depressing for her’.

Right.

‘And she’s only young, she can’t cope with all this. Take her somewhere nice.’

Right.

You know, ‘So you can know each other.’
 

Yasmin’s medical history showed repeat bouts of depression, unwillingness to talk, and non-attendance for her children’s routine checks. She was also absent from school events.

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I think my main, main thing should be if they analyse the problem they should dig.

Dig. Mm.

In my history, in my medical history, I did see … two different doctors mention the lady is very depressed but refused to open up. They could say … have parenting classes …

Uh-huh.

… have some, ‘Oh, we have this group running’, or we have this … they … we have red books …

Yes.

… but I don’t see any use of red books.

No.

Unless a mother want to.

Yes.

And I think they should make use that red book. They should see the child is going regularly basis, Mum taking the children…

What’s the red book?

The red book when the child born.

For the child. Yes, that you fill in.

Yeah.

Yeah, yeah.

Every time you weigh, every time …

Yes.

… they have teeth or …

Yes, yes.

I think … GPs, health visitor, and teachers … teach, I think second one is teacher. She knows how the child is doing in education. She know and, and the school should have … a little … workshop for the children to see if they are living in that abuse or controlled environment.
 

Yasmin, who was rarely able to leave the house, began to plan her escape using the internet and social media.

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So the more he hit me, the more he make conditions, the more I wanted to leave him [laughs].

Yes.

Or have that freedom. So …I started to go online chat rooms. And the people were so happy, talk about their relationships, and they …their husband and their wives, ‘Oh, I’m going to do this because my wife asked me.’, and ‘I’m going to do this.’ And I …I do nothing, I just read their chat and nothing, in public rooms. And that’s …

What, like libraries or …?

It’s just a place there; old people go there and …

Right.

… they have different language rooms and you can enter with a …

Oh I see.

… an ID.

Right.

You can either use … you know, this part … have your ID there or you start chatting ‘Oh I’m from here’.

Yes, yes.

‘I speak this language’.

Yeah.

You make friends.

Yeah.

Whatever. Pretty much Facebook or … 

Yes.

… Instagram whatever. But you add people if you have like …you like. But it was voice conversation as well.

Yes.

So if somebody talking other sixty, seventy people can hear.

Can hear.

So they always talk about their perfect relationship, and I thought what kind of …world I am living in? And then they, sometimes they have the different rooms which they talk about law, this is forbidden, this is as religious, this is as a country. I start developing my knowledge you can say.

Yes. Yes.

And then start … and trying to understood the thing and …polishing my English, but I never learned English from anywhere at all. A few words, then Google it, and then look something on You Tube.
 

Yasmin described struggling practically and financially whilst being afraid that her ex-partner would ‘come any minute’ to get her.

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I went council back, they send me in that borough which I am living right now.

So that’s where you are now?

Yes, but that accommodation was on … fourth or fifth building, there wasn’t any lift going up sixty-seven stair.

Oh.

Three children.

Oh my Goodness.

Going up, going down, I just don’t know what to do. And I had to start benefit, so I thought okay, well … that was physical abuse, that was sexual abuse; I think the real abuse started now.

In what sense?

No money.

Uh-huh.

No strength to walk. Don’t know where to go [tearful]. Struggle six weeks a lot, until I find somebody … to take me to women refuge, and that fear he’s going to come any minute.

Oh right, yeah.

The knife scene stuck in my mind …

Of course it did.

… so badly [tearful].

Of course it did, yes.

And then I had it to go. They said, ‘Oh there is a women refuge’, I said, ‘Just take me anywhere.’

So who … who was the lady who found you and took you to a refuge then? Who was …?

She was from the police department.

Right.

She was a … like sensitive department of raping and everything.

Right. Uh-huh.

And because she took me to family justice centre, I even don’t know do I want any police against, against him? Do I want to get divorce first? I was just running.

Yes of course.

Though without knowing, without having that knowledge …

Of course.

… what I am doing.

Yes.

I was just running from this man.
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