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Domestic violence. What can I do to help?

(11 Posts)
Helenagrace Thu 22-Sep-11 10:45:39

I have a friend who is a muslim who was born overseas but is a naturalised citizen here and has a child who was born here. She is married to an abusive, controlling man who has now, as of last night, started to be violent towards her. She is also recovering from a life-threatening illness.

She is struggling to think abut leaving him because of her culture and religion.

I have told her that she doesn't need to put up with this.

I, and another friend, have explained that he is lying when he tells her that if she leaves she will be thrown out of the country if she leaves him and that she will have to leave her child here.

We have previously taken her to a benefits adviser and she now knows that she will get financial help if she leaves him (he had told her she would be penniless). We have taken copies of key documents like passports, bank statements and citizenship documents and we are holding them for her. He does not know we have these.

I have offered her an emergency bed at my house anytime day or night if she needs to flee, whilst we sort out somewhere else for her to go. He does know where I live but that's a risk I'll have to accept to help my friend.

He is now controlling her email and facebook accounts and has taken her mobile phone away. The only "unsupervised" contact she has with us is on school run. She has no money at all, literally. He buys all the food. She has not one penny in her purse. I am now keeping an envelope of cash at home in case she needs it to get away. She knows that.

We check on her every weekday. She is not allowed to see or contact us at weekends.

This morning her child said to me "I saved my mum's life last night". I fear the child might be the next target.

I know it has to be her decision to leave him. I will do anything to support her that I can. I feel utterly powerless, I cannot begin to imagine how she feels.

Can anyone think of anything else that I can do? I know there is a forced marriage helpline but this isn't the situation. Who else can we talk to? Should I contact school about my concerns? Is it worth talking to the police or is that something she has to do?

Any advice would be most gratefully received.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 22-Sep-11 10:51:46

Southall Black Sisters ?

They are specialised in DV against Asian and Caribbean women. Even if you are not in West London, they have plenty of resources online.

HerHissyness Thu 22-Sep-11 12:11:46

Sounds like she is mentally preparing herself, she seems to have all the ducks lining up, all she has to do know is to take the deep breath and do it.

You can see her at the school run time, those are your times to remind her that she can always come to you, in an emergency, get a cab and get everyone out. Or to plan with her and Woman's Aid what to take, and have her exit managed.

Call woman's aid and ask their advice about the school etc, my guess is that it will happen one way or another in the hopefully not to far off future. Make it as easy and safe as possible for her to flee to you, then the rest can be sorted out.

I hope she stays safe until she gets out.

God bless you, what a great friend you really are.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Thu 22-Sep-11 15:42:43

The most expedient way of dealing this with this is situation is for your friend to either go to a police station or call the police.

There are numerous refuges around the country run by Asian women for Asian women who are best placed to help your friend her the support she may need to break free of her conditioning, sever all ties with her abusive h, and (possibly) resist pressure from her family.

In the first instance, I suggest you give Ashiana's 24hr helpline - 0114 255 5740 - a call or google 'asian women refuge' to find a local service.

From what you've said, it would seem that the school run currently offers the only opportunity for her to leave her h. If it would jeopardise your own safety to facilitate her escape with her dc, it may be necessary to involve the police who will transport her to a safe house.

As you have copies of her relevant documents, please encourage her to put her safety and that of the dc above any considerations of personal possessions, money etc - these commodities can easily be replaced; she can't.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Thu 22-Sep-11 15:44:20

'help your friend her the support'? 'give your friend the support'

ash6605 Fri 23-Sep-11 14:08:12

Have no actual advice to give but just read this and thought What a lucky lady she is to have a friend like you, well done it sounds like you are going out of your way to help. Such an awful situation though hope it gets sorted

Helenagrace Fri 23-Sep-11 14:19:40

Thank you for all your suggestions. I have managed to find a specialist worker who helps women from the Muslim community in domestic violence situations. We're trying to get her to a place of safety this weekend but we have a very small window of opportunity. We will literally have about an hour. The police have been outstanding - very understanding and so supportive. I had no ideas there were so many organisations offering support.

I just hope we can pull this off and get her out of there.

Aftereightsaremine Fri 23-Sep-11 14:23:47

I have nothing to add except that I think you are a true friend & your friend is very lucky to have someone like you supporting her.

WhoWhoWhoWho Fri 23-Sep-11 14:29:09

It sounds like your friend has support in place from you and the things that have already been done are all good preparations. It is such a sickenly scary thing to do, leaving an abusive relationship, but once she has done it she won't look back. Her poor dcs too obviously know what's been going on, it may be worth her having this DV (physical) on record with the police for future attempts at contact with the children. Just focus on supporting her in getting out for now though. Babysteps. One small thing at a time, and one day at a time and she will get there.

Wishing her well. smile

HedleyLamarr Fri 23-Sep-11 15:32:26

Karma Nirvana is for precisely the women like your friend. Sorry I didn't see this earlier OP.

chickensaresafehere Fri 23-Sep-11 15:45:22

Have encountered a situation very similar to this when I worked for a womens aid charity.
The only unsupervised time she had was on the school run,we advised her over the phone at first,to make sure she had an escape plan & then picked her up from the school with her children,where she spent one night at our refuge,then we arranged for her to go to a refuge in a different part of the country..
The important thing is not to arouse his suspicion,the refuge will supply her & her children with everything she will need including sorting out emergency money for her.
Do not let this continue,get planning asap!!Good Luck.

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