Please take a minute to read these real stories. Names have been changed to protect our service users' identity.
From the day I arrived in the UK, I faced constant abuse by my husband and his family, in particular by my mother-in-law. I worked in the day and did household chores at night. Food consisted of leftovers from the family's meals. I washed myself using the outside cold tap.
When I became pregnant, my mother-in-law continued to abuse me and one day she beat me into unconsciousness. When I awoke, I was bleeding and miscarried for two days. Her response was that I should take painkillers and return to work. In India, my family were getting worried has they hadn't heard from me. A family friend contacted me at work. He immediately informed my father of the abuse, who came to the UK. The family told him I was no longer welcome and threw me out on the street in just the clothes I was wearing. I had restrictions on my visa so did not have access to any benefits. Aanchal fought hard with Social Services to get me a place in a refuge where I stayed for two years whilst my immigration status was regulated. Thanks to Aanchal I am now free from the daily torment and degradation I suffered for so long.
Charanjit arrived in the UK from India for an arranged marriage. The violence started straight away. She and her children were physically abused by her husband and in-laws. Hot ladles were placed on her arms, she was kicked and punched and there were many attempts to strangle her. Every Monday morning, her mother-in-law would stand at her bed and spit on her face, calling her a prostitute. Charanjit's life began to change when her doctor put her in touch with Aanchal. When she first went to Aanchal she did not know how to get on a bus, and was afraid to talk to anyone. She had five years of counselling and support from Aanchal and is now confident and independent. Crucially, she and her children can now live without fear.
I got married in Pakistan when I was twenty years old. Following our marriage, my husband and I remained in Pakistan for two weeks following our marriage. During this time, he was very kind and good to me. There was no indication of the horrors that were to come, soon after our arrival in the UK where he lived.
Once in the UK I soon discovered that he was a drug addict. His brothers and other family members also were taking drugs. My husband started to beat me. My mother-in-law joined in as well and they would not give me enough to eat. I was constantly hungry despite being pregnant. On one occasion my face was shoved in the dog tray and I was ordered to eat the dog food. My husband regularly subjected me to horrific sexual abuse and I was terrified not only for myself, but for my unborn baby. I lived in constant fear of my husband and was afraid to tell anyone. I did not know how to contact the police.
In the midst of the on-going abuse I gave birth to my daughter and my fears for her safety came painfully true a few months later when, to my shock and horror, my brother-in-law threw her to the five pet dogs. Ironically the dogs showed more humanity than the humans as they did not harm my baby. This made me realise that both my life and the life of my small child were in immediate danger. This gave me the courage and strength to call for help, but by then my weight had plummeted to four stones and I had tuberculosis.
When I revealed the truth about the abuse I had been suffering to my maternal aunt and her family, they - along with the police - stepped in to rescue me. In spite of the police presence, my husband threatened to kill my uncle. He was arrested and spent a year in jail. While in jail, he continued to write threatening letters to me and I lived in constant fear that once he was released, he would come for me. But there was nowhere I could go to hide from him. Due to my immigration status, I was not entitled to any welfare benefits. This meant that no refuge was willing to take me in. Despite the efforts of various agencies, Social Services were unwilling to help. I was also worried for the safety of my aunt and her family as they continued to receive death threats from my in-laws for helping me. I desperately needed access to a safe house where my daughter and I could live.
The breakthrough finally came when I got in touch with Aanchal. Through their diligent efforts Social Services eventually agreed to give me financial support which secured me a desperately needed refuge space. Aanchal also referred me to an immigration solicitor to get legal advice regarding my immigration status. Aanchal kept in regular contact with the solicitor to check progress of my case as well as providing supporting letters to further my case with the Home Office. I am very pleased to say that a few weeks ago I was granted 'Indefinite Leave to remain' in the UK. Now I can think about rebuilding my life with my young daughter, free from the abuse and terror my husband and his family inflicted on me.
Feedback from third parties
"It's a pleasure working with such a professional team who actually care for the women they support." Worker at Eaves Women's Aid
"I had to come in person to tell you how good you are. Every time a staff member leaves, they ensure your number is first to be passed onto the next person" Redbridge Police Officer - Children's Team
Feedback from service users
"Other people as well as our husbands think we are incapable and will be lost and helpless without them. We won't be able to fill out forms, pay bills but you have helped us to do all that and more."
"I do not know what we would do without Aanchal."
"I have learned to value myself for who I am. With advice, patience and true support, I have come to understand that I can build a successful life."