I came to Bridge House two and a half months ago, after being referred here from a refuge in another city. I am originally from India and came to England after getting married. I believed that my husband would look after me and that we would be able to make a happy life with each other, but I was wrong.
I lived together with my son, my husband and his parents and suffered domestic abuse at their hands whilst I was there. I was allowed no freedom and no choices. I was not allowed to use the internet or to have money of my own. I was able to go outside the house but if you don’t have any money then you can’t go anywhere or buy anything. My husband always seemed to have money for alcohol and gambling but he never had any money for us. I wasn’t able to buy basic things for our son like nappies, it was so degrading. I never bought anything for myself. I’m a trained beauty therapist so I was sometimes allowed to give family friends massages or other treatments, but I never got any money for it. I had no freedom or control over what I did and that is no way to live your life.
My husband’s family would always put me down, I meant nothing to them. My father in law was very frightening; he would always threaten me with deportation, especially when my son was being naughty. He told me that he would take my son away from me if I wasn’t careful. I had no rights to my son; he was my husband’s child and I was just an extra. Once he called the Police just because he was crying, but that’s what children do, sometimes they cry. My husband said that I had brought bad luck on him. He had no respect for me and who else will respect you if not your husband? It was a really difficult situation to be in.
After leaving my husband’s house I briefly stayed with my sister in law who took me to the first refuge I was in. I am still in contact with her but I’ve completely cut ties with my husband. I have no wish to have him back in my life.
Since coming to Bridge House things have gotten a lot better for me. Margaret has helped me to fill in my visa application which my family had refused to go through with me, and she has also helped me to get some financial support. Previously I was always asking for money but now I have so much more control over my life. I can pay for things without asking permission from my husband and can provide for my son more easily. Margaret has also helped me to find a solicitor who seems like a nice lady.
When we first arrived at Bridge House my son found it really difficult because he was used to being an only child and having all of his toys to himself. He wouldn’t let any of the other children play with his favourite toys and would scream and kick when anyone tried to take them away from him. Since Amanda has been working with him though, he has gotten so much better. He shares everything and plays with the other children nicely. We have always had a close relationship, but now it is even stronger and working with Amanda has really helped.
Living at Bridge House at this time of year is quite strange. It was hard spending Diwali alone but Amanda did lots of activities with the children like making lanterns, to make it special. I’m really hoping to make this Christmas a happier one for my son. Last year I saw all the Christmas toy adverts on the television and I asked my husband if we could buy something for our son but he refused. He had nothing to open on Christmas morning which I found really sad. This year I’m going to make sure that he gets a present. I’ve been saving up and I’m going to try and buy him a bike.
When I leave Bridge House I hope to move into a house of my own and start work as a beauty therapist. In the future I would even like to run my own business. Even though I sometimes miss my husband because I feel lonely, I am so much stronger and happier now that I’m living at here. I can look towards making a better future for myself and my son.