I suffered from various forms of abuse at the hands of my ex-partner and some family members.
At age 12, when I returned home from school in Yorkshire, I was greeted by relatives from Pakistan. Within an hour I was dressed in a red bridal outfit and a ceremony was performed for me to be engaged to a much older first cousin. Later at age 16, I was taken, along with many other young girls and boys, to be married off to a cousin I had never seen before.
Eventually, after 14 years of abuse, I got a divorce. Being a divorcee and single woman was extremely challenging, not just physically draining but mentally exhausting. The family and community did not want to know me or my children. The lack of support available and limited understanding in the professional world left me feeling vulnerable and I fell into a trap of a further 8 years in another abusive relationship.
When I spoke out about my experiences of forced marriage and so-called ‘honour based violence’, I was ostracised and shunned by my community. This was very difficult for me and my children, but for my boys in particular. However, I was determined not to leave town.
As a single mum of four, I decided to set up a cookery business. I had limited knowledge and very little education, but I created my own brand, products, and website. I experienced many challenges and abuse from ex-partners, family and the community, but after a while I got requests to appear on TV and have since featured in many live shows on SKY TV, BBC and I also go on stage to demonstrate my cooking.
Today I am a successful businesswoman and I share my story to inspire and educate people from various communities and professions.
Unfortunately, we have only made a little progress in educating and preventing domestic abuse, forced marriage and so called ‘honour’ based abuse. Today, children are still taken abroad and forced into marriage and this is also often linked with ‘honour’ base abuse and can even result in death or serious harm. This affects men and women.
We must all do more to raise awareness of these kinds of abuse and work together to keep people safe.
For anyone who is experiencing abuse, from a partner or a family member, know that IDAS is there to support you. They listen and let you know what your options are. They can help to keep you safe. If you are worried about someone you know, don’t wait till they are seriously injured or harmed, contact IDAS.