WHAT TO EXPECT AT HUMRAAZ
Humraaz Refuge supports Black and Minority women and their children fleeing domestic abuse and all forms of Harmful Traditional Practices.
Humraaz offers safe temporary accommodation, advice and support. Any woman who needs accommodation can be referred through an agency that is supporting her. A pre-admission risk assessment is conducted to ensure our service is appropriate for the woman’s need. Although we do not offer specific support for particular issues, such as drugs, alcohol and mental health, we work closely with specialist services to ensure such support needs are met.
Some of the issues faced by women arriving at Humraaz are: –
Safety – When a woman leaves an abusive environment, it can make her feel very vulnerable and in fear of her life and worry about where she will go as she may not be aware of the services. This may lead to her feeling she has no choice but to stay within the abusive relationship. It can take a woman a long time to finally come to the decision to leave or sometimes be forced to leave. Leaving is a huge step knowing that she may be cut off from the extended family and / or the community.
Finances– Women worry about not having enough money for food to feed herself and her children. Not every woman will know her entitlement to benefits. In many relationships the man will take control over the finances leaving the woman unaware of the family finances. Over the years many women have been surprised to learn that they can claim welfare benefits in their own right.
No recourse to public funds – If a woman comes to the UK on a Spouse Visa, she becomes dependent on her husband for her right to remain in the UK. She is also reliant on her husband as her `sponsor’ to apply within 2 years for her own right to remain.
During this period the woman is classed as ‘no recourse to public funds’, she is completely financially dependent on her sponsor. If during this period the woman is subjected to domestic abuse, she can be trapped in a very dangerous situation. In addition to violence and abuse, a woman will often face isolation, language barriers, no access to information, no independent funds, no family other than her husband’s relatives and often no friends. Many women live in fear, thinking they have nowhere to go for help.
If they return to their country of origin, they face leaving their children and may fear persecution and the stigma of a failed marriage.
Honour based violence – “He will find me and kill me,”” I have shamed the family”– These are common statements many women repeat again and again in a state of fear. We are aware that women from particular communities are made to feel that they are responsible for upholding the family honour. Should that be the honour of the family name, the honour of her husband, brother, family, son or community – the consequences of an act against the expected code results in women facing extreme violence which in many unfortunate situations leads to death.
Children – Children come to us with various emotions, often feeling guilty, angry, withdrawn and upset. The list goes on according to the impact children are faced with. Appropriate support using a child-centred approach is imperative to ensure they are able to manage and deal with their experiences and emotions in a manner which reduces further detrimental effects on their personal wellbeing. Coming into a refuge can be exciting – a new place, new people – however, making new friends while having to keep the refuge address confidential, can be extremely difficult.
Child contact – Child contact is an important issue. It is not the case that every abusive man isn’t a good father. Children who have had a good relationship will still want to see their father. However, for safety, we support women in securing this contact through the right channels to avoid situations of being attacked, or children being abducted. In some cases the perpetrator may even file for contact just to find out where the woman is staying. This needs to be managed through the support of a solicitor.
Housing – There is a huge amount of disruption when a woman leaves her home, settles into a refuge and then has to leave again. This unsettling chain of events comes attached with many feelings and fears. Where will I get re-housed? But I don’t know anyone in that area? These are common questions we hear on a regular basis. For a woman with children, this often means uprooting the children, changing schools, making new friends, and this doesn’t give stability.
The transition period needs a comprehensive support package which caters for all the varying issues and needs. Our outreach worker supports women resettle into independent living and ensures that practical and emotional needs are provided