Domestic abuse in BME communities

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This topic contains 26 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of iamme iamme 11 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #15405
    Profile photo of Lisa Lisa 
    Main Moderator

    Domestic abuse in BME (Black and ethnic minority) communities, please share your experiences here.

    Best wishes

    Lisa

  • #15453
    Profile photo of shine bright 2 shine bright 2 
    Participant

    hi, thought I’d post just cos I was reading another post about professionals not understanding certain cultures. I kind of understand this, but not really. I come a very closed community….everyone knows everyone and a bit isolated from everyone else…which doesn’t help. That said I got a social worker from my own back ground and she said “we all you know how men in our future can be” that niggled me cos I know violence is often accepted and sometimes justified by region but that seemed unfair and a little dismissive. In the beginning a male police officer came and u was scared.He didn’t understand anything of my back ground or my discomfort at having a non male relative in the house, but he took time to talk to me and understand, which counts for a lot. I think belonging to a community within a community can be hard and everything you are told is through a certain filter. I was scared of the police who are seen As the enemy where my family are from.when we first came back from abroad a neighbour heard him beating me and reported to the police and seeing the way I was dressed they asked if I needed someone to interpret…despite that English is actually my first language really…so people certainly make assumptions.

    Actually the place I was most nervous to mention ethnicity was here because I felt that people might judge…because as a religion we are shown a certain way in the media..women in my religion are perceived as oppressed and unwilling to speak out and to a degree that is true. I have heard many times the phrase “death is better than dishonour” and I have dishonoured and shamed my family by speaking up. That’s hard when your friends are often related or from the same small community.
    I have been given numbers for organisations specific to my community but I don’t see the point, because I am first and foremost a human being but for me I have a chance to teach my kids that silence doesn’t equal honour, that being beaten and raped isn’t something that you have to “put up with” that your husband doesn’t have the right to beat you “lightly” you know we would sit watching Saudi TV where they would discuss what size stick you can use on your wife if she doesn’t obey you. It makes me want to cry when I think about that and the things he done to me. often these ideas are supported and upheld women. older women tell you it’s put of life, just accept it….that is not what I will teach my kids…no way.

    • #26314
      Profile photo of Ladybird Ladybird 
      Participant

      This… This is exactly how I feel. My father is very controlling and it’s so hard to get others to understand. I have extensive knowledge of religion so I know what he’s doing is wrong. Completely wrong. It’s not called caring, it’s emotional and psychological abuse. I feel so worried I’ll just be seen as a stereotypical oppressed muslim woman because of the way I dress. I’ve spoken to Women’s Aid twice and I’m still scared to leave home, they’ll be devastated. I know I need to though.. I can’t see my life going anywhere if I stay.

  • #15454
    Profile photo of shine bright 2 shine bright 2 
    Participant

    Sorry…bit like a school essay and lots of typos. predictive text….really

  • #15458
    Profile photo of Confused123 Confused123 
    Participant

    HI Ignore my previous post lisa, have worked out what BME stamds for.

    Its horrible in the asian culture, never mind escaping your ex, u have to face the community too. I never forget how at begining how i received sympathy for my scenario, them once it was clear i was not going bk how people blanked me , wanted to know more details, made it out as if it was a norm in our culture and if they took verbal abuse why couldnt i take it , even though mine was phsyical too, even today (detail removed by moderator) months on people in my culture are so nosy , wanting to know the details , i refuse to give, the dis respect they give u is horrible, i never forget this one night i was getting beaten up, i finally was brave to call the police and his friend turn up who was an officer, guess whos side he was on. I had social worker who was indian, again just felt as i was judged ,

  • #15461
    Profile photo of Millionpieces Millionpieces 
    Participant

    I came from minority who don’t accept my relationship with my ex as we are not married, they will be throw a party if they know I have been abused. What I get from my ex is what I deserve. Yet a lots of people who are married get husband who abuse them mentally just being used for resident in this country. And none of I know ever stand up for them self, they just let the abuser get away believing that karma will justify our life. Is that right?

  • #15462
    Profile photo of Ayanna Ayanna 
    Participant

    I have a mixed background, very international, have no community and I am extremely isolated. The abuse I suffered caused me to lose the few connections I had to people from the country where I was born.
    When I needed help I was discriminated by the services due to my ethnic background and refused help. The people who are my relatives have been killed, put in concentration camps or were assimilated by force. They do not accept me with my European upbringing and so called wealthy background and loss of roots and traditions. They mock me when I want to be like them. So I do not even try. And they are very far away, too far away. I have never been able to grow roots where I was born because I was too different.
    Here in England there are a few people who understand me, but they live too far away from where I am and they could not help me. Most of them are very old and have their own health issues. I can only see them when I travel far. This was not possible with everything being upside down for so long.
    I have health issues that root directly in the genetics of my ancestors. I have done the research and know what food to avoid and which medication never to take.
    I felt that the help is only available to women who have a strong community. Isolated women like me are sent straight to their death.
    I am someone who always saves a little money. That saved my life. That money caused me to survive. Not even one single person helped me. Everybody let me down. I asked for help from all services on a daily basis. I did not retreat and say nothing. I begged for help. And yet I was let down.
    I had no help when I wanted to get out. The only help I had was from the police when they broke in to pull me out and saved my life. But then even the police listend to the manipulations and told me to leave the house and live in the street.
    I would have died had I not saved my secret money.
    I have no support from anywhere and I have to completely rely on myself. My health issues are not being understood. My ethnicity is disregarded, does not even exist in this country. Health professionals refuse to listen to me. It feels to me as if I suffer a continuation of the holocaust of my people. It does not help that I am on a different continent.
    It is just recently, due to my tireless efforts of getting help, that I am a little bit listened to.
    Now I am on a waiting list for therapy. I hope that I will at least be able to get my self back, become stronger and build a new life after suffering so much.

  • #15655
    Profile photo of Lisa Lisa 
    Main Moderator

    Thank you so much to all of you that have posted here. It is so helpful to us all to read about this so that we can understand and hopefully change the stereotypes.

    Please keep posting we so appreciate it.

    Best wishes,

    Lisa

  • #15760
    Profile photo of dreameroftheday dreameroftheday 
    Participant

    I am from a mixed background myself and I was truly a minority where I used to be. I am in a refuge now. I still feel like a minority as I have not yet met anyone like myself. The abuse came from my father then as one of my younger brothers got older he also started to act like my father. He would act strict like him and tell me off when he felt like it. I was really close to my brother, we were like friends and we did loads of stuff together. We’d play video games, we would go to the cinema. Things started to get bad when he noticed I liked men and would speak to them. He really disapproved of this due to our religion and especially our father’s culture. We started to grow apart and he became harsh with me. I would get really angry with him but I held it inside, but it seemed like he was allowed to tell me off whenever he wanted and my parents didn’t really care. The night before I left for the refuge, he was telling me off and trying to get me to confess to being in a relationship (which I am, with an incredible man who I love so much). He was blocking the doorway and not letting me go. My mother was standing nearby and I asked her why are you letting him do this? She shrugged and said well I want to know if you are in a relationship. Our religion tells us to conceal our ‘sins’, yet I was being forced to confess my so-called ‘sins’. I refused to speak about it as I felt it was none of their business what I did in my private life. I remember going upstairs to try and calm myself down as I was hyperventilating. Nobody even came to check on me to see if I was ok. I am so glad I was able to get myself out and into a refuge. I feel so much safer here and free to see and talk to my boyfriend. I still want to be in touch with the family members who support me, I don’t want anyone to think I chose a man over my family. It’s not like that at all but unfortunately in some cultures it becomes that because they just will not accept you dating.

    Anyway sorry for my post being so long. I am so glad we now have a section to post in.

  • #15846
    Profile photo of shine bright 2 shine bright 2 
    Participant

    Reading this is interesting…because I feel that I ended up married to someone abusive because it was like…ok u talked to this guy so that’s it you have got to be with him. I also got of pressure from male relatives, and like dreamer I feel that it was ignored by other women. many women in my community were happy to sympathise so long as u stayed with them. When u leave the apathy dries up. so many people were of the view that they tolerated this kind of treatment so u should too. We lived in a country where there was one refuge….One! For that reason I’m very grateful for the help I got here, but I wish that people would see as more than what I wear on the religion I follow.
    I hate to say this because I thin women’s aid to a great job, but the person who really made me feel like an alien was the lady from WA. she was/is lovely but kept saying things like…I don’t know much about your culture but I think that might be common or “maybe that’s a cultural thing” I have yet to make a sat meet regarding the sexual assaults that I experienced, but I know that there will be some things that im going to find horrific to explain and that I don’t even know the words for and sometimes u have to explain that certain things are forbidden in our religion which makes them worse…I think there are lots of things people don’t get…but to me it’s the reaction that’s important…I don’t want to be treated like a freak because I believe or do something that’s different.

  • #15881
    Profile photo of dreameroftheday dreameroftheday 
    Participant

    When I called the helpline I sort of got the impression they don’t know too much about abuse within BME communities, but to her credit the woman on the line did recognise possible issues with honour. I always thought I was ok because nobody physically hurt me. But after I left home my father started leaving me messages saying he wished God would destroy me and that I wasn’t clean anymore because I’m with a Non-Muslim man. He mentioned honour and said what would people think? And that the best place for me is my family home. He doesn’t believe I’m happy here and for a while he kept threatening to call the police and report me missing, but my support worker here said let him call the police if he wants, we will sort it out if he does.

    Honestly my mum is a product of what’s around her because she is from a western culture but she has been with my dad a long time. I think she doesn’t know how to reason with my dad. And when I would go to her and complain my brother was harsh she didn’t seem to care. But when my brother went to her with his suspicions about my relationship, she completely sided with him and let him treat me like dirt, right in front of her. I understand her being afraid of male members of the family but she let it go too far, to the point where I just wasn’t as close to her anymore because she was just constantly suspicious.

  • #15885
    Profile photo of shine bright 2 shine bright 2 
    Participant

    omg dreamer….This is all so
    o familiar. All the things about honour and being better off with family or husband no matter what. They acted like leaving would be terrible. Everything was about honor..that’s why I had to marry him. I think everyone is very aware of honour killing now so there is a bit more understanding though maybe not of how deep it runs. I was afraid he would take my kids and subject them to fgm which is v common where we are from…people understood about that as it’s been such a big thing although it’s not effecting as my women as honour related violence. I do t want my own kids to grow up thinking they are the property of uncles cousins etc just cos they are female

  • #15939
    Profile photo of Lisa Lisa 
    Main Moderator

    Thank you again for sharing your experiences with us. It is great to hear having this section on the Forum is helpful to you.

    Keep posting when you can.

    Best wishes,

    Lisa

  • #15948
    Profile photo of lover of no contact lover of no contact 
    Participant

    Hi dreameroftheday,

    I’m so glad you got yourself out of the abusive situation and are safe now in the refuge.

    I’ll never forget Shafilea Ahmed (anyone interested google her sad story of abuse, honour and arranged marriages used as excuses to abuse ) who tried once to get away from her abusive father (her mother and brother sided with her father in their abuse of her) but was brought back to the family home by him and a few months later died at his hands whilst mother and siblings watched. I remeber you knew that story. She was a beautiful,talented girl.

    I’m glad you’re safe.

  • #16241
    Profile photo of Ayanna Ayanna 
    Participant

    Sending everyone hugs of sisterhood!

  • #16242
    Profile photo of shine bright 2 shine bright 2 
    Participant

    wish u cud Ayanna….I miss having friends. Need someone to cry wiv

  • #16301
    Profile photo of Lisa Lisa 
    Main Moderator

    Thank you so much to all of you who have shared your experiences of domestic abuse in BME communities. Please keep posting as we would so love to hear from you and learn what would improve your experiences.

    Best wishes,

    Lisa

  • #17010
    Profile photo of dreameroftheday dreameroftheday 
    Participant

    In some ways my situation was strange because my dad never tried to get me married. In fact he wanted to keep me at home. For what reason I have no idea as all he seemed to do to me was make demands, judge me, lecture me, tell me off for something or another. I was actually trying to get married myself, but my dad would reject every man I found. And he told me no white men. He says horrible things about my boyfriend via voicemail. He doesn’t even know him.

    I was thinking of going back home to get the rest of my things. I wouldn’t go in while my dad is there though. But I have decided against this. One of my brothers, the good one, may bring them to me so I hope that’s the case. I don’t want to take any risks.

    We all need friends. I’ve made friends here but I have found myself not being able to completely open up to them. I cry alone or to my boyfriend. I think he is getting fed up of me lol

    • #17097
      Profile photo of Lisa Lisa 
      Main Moderator

      Hi dreameroftheday,

      Thank you for your post. You sound so strong. It must have been so difficult to leave your family but knowing the abuse was escalating you made the right choice. It’s good to hear you have decided against returning home to collect your belongings, unfortunately it would most likely be too risky.

      It is great how supportive your boyfriend is and that you have made new friends. It is hard to build trust and confide in new people- I hope it helps to post on here about how you are feeling and what you are going through.

      You are doing brilliantly!

      Keep posting when you can.

      Best wishes,

      Lisa

  • #17161
    Profile photo of dreameroftheday dreameroftheday 
    Participant

    I think I am slowly destroying my relationship and I can’t even stop myself doing it. It’s like I’m picking fights with my boyfriend on purpose because I’m stuck in a refuge. And when you don’t have much money you end up stuck inside a lot, so cabin fever sets in and we have a curfew and so on. It feels like a prison sometimes. I thought I would be ok once I left home. It’s like a whole other battle to get through, meanwhile all the stuff that happened still affects me. I was taken out of school. I look stupid on paper. I’m doing courses but not saying I’m studying when I apply for jobs. I don’t want anything to put them off. I just feel really down in myself. I don’t know how to fix it.

  • #17228
    Profile photo of Lisa Lisa 
    Main Moderator

    Hi dreameroftheday,

    I am sorry that you feel that your past experiences are negatively effecting your relationship. What you are describing is a very common situation as it can take a very long time to recover from an abusive relationships. Please do know that you can phone the helpline any time to talk and that we are all here for you.

    Please be kind to yourself.

    Best wishes,

    Lisa

  • #17391
    Profile photo of Lisa Lisa 
    Main Moderator

    Thank you so much to all of you who have taken the time to share your experiences about Domestic abuse in BME communities. Please do continue to post.

    Best wishes,

    Lisa
    Forum Moderator

  • #22975
    Profile photo of dreameroftheday dreameroftheday 
    Participant

    My boyfriend and I did briefly split up, for a week because he wanted space. We got back together because I bumped into him one day and he decided we are better together. We gave each other much needed space for a few weeks, and now everything seems a lot better. I need to continue my counselling and the artwork I started while in the refuge.

  • #26699
    Profile photo of Positiveandlookingahead Positiveandlookingahead 
    Participant

    Hi all. I would like to share my story with you. I’m from the Indian community and I too and now getting divorced. I have to say that my parents have been sooo supportive before i left my dad just kept saying always remember there is a roof over your head in this house and I just couldn’t understand why he would say this! I just laughed and said dad of course. My dad knew exactly what my husband was but he knew if he told me and I confronted him that he could do anything to me so I had to find out for myself! My mum has been so supportive she has been my rock. She has not left me alone for a single day since this happened and it’s been a while now. Not one single person has asked why I am home again and no one in my area or anyone has said anything to me personally. Everyone is stood with me even his family said they can’t leave me and they want to still be there for me but I’ve had to cut them out as I can’t have no link to him and I need a fresh start. I had to talk about my positive experience because all families are not like this. I have to just try and get through this as best as I can! I hope you all are doing the same thing too

  • #51681
    Profile photo of iamme iamme 
    Participant

    I know this thread is old but I think it’s really important. As a victim of abuse as a child and as an adult in the Bangladeshi/muslim community I have been through a lot. I have seen how school, GP’s, midwives, and health visitors have reacted. I have witnessed abuse of my mother by my father and of my siblings. My mother’s attitude was that we had to live with it. After one incident, she explained to my brother that my father had the right to behave as he did because he was above us.

    Health visitors were aware because when I was very young, a midwife picked up on my fathers behaviour towards. She told him to stop shouting at me. She sent health visitors around who waited till my dad had left. My mum covered for my father and the health visitors left it alone.

    At my first school, I was aware that teachers used to take me aside and talk to me as they played with me. Even when I was quite badly injured once at school, they asked me if I wanted to go home and if I wanted them to tell my parents. I said no. I think they knew but they couldn’t do anything unless they had evidence that I was being abused very badly. It wasn’t till I was an adult that a counsellor told me the policy about leaving people to their culture. Through my childhood, most of the people who tried to protect me had been white, except for an egyptian doctor.

    I tried as an adult to help my mother and my siblings but when I told doctors who were muslim, they would say he sounds strict and that was that. At present a lot of health professionals in my community are asian muslims of both pakistani and bangladeshi ethnicities. When I first spoke about my abuse I felt let down. The health visitor treated me like I was sub human and wanted to put me on drugs to help me cope when I was asking for help. She didn’t want to be responsible for breaking my marriage up. She was trying to stop me from leaving. I called a charity for abuse victims a few times but after the third time, the lady on the phone told me i was making judgements about a whole community based on religion. She thought I was white because I have a extremely good spoken English. I gave up until I called wonensaid this year. The lady on the phone did not judge me. She gave me the strength to speak out again and plan for my future.

    In my community, the few good people who care enough about me to tell me to leave everything have always advised to get help from a white person because they don’t make judgements and they keep you safe while trying to help you. I don’t think it should matter what your ethnicity or religion is. I think frontline services should have training in dealing with victims of abuse and muslims should keep their religious views to themselves in the workplace especially when dealing with DV and vulnerable women with babies.

  • #51713
    Profile photo of Anewbreath Anewbreath 
    Participant

    I am from the caribbean. My abuser is also from the caribbean. I put up with alot of his c**p/ his situation in the beginning because he reminded me of home. And I didnt realize how lonely I was. He filled my need for family. He was emotionally abusive from the start but emotional abuse was normal for me so I didnt recognize it as abuse. I didnt like it, I didnt want it but I put up with it. I grew up with abuse all around me. I grew up with almost all the men I know cheating on their partners. Good men I believed, but cheaters. And even with some family members and neighbours i knew that loved each other having fist fights, and threatening to stab their partners. Abuse is deeply embedded in my culture, and so for me it was normal. Women where I am from fight back. So when he cussed me I cussed back and I had the good sense to lock myself in a room when ever he reached the point of violence. I wish i had been strong enough to walk away from him. He has done this before so he has videos of me screaming and cussing at him. Like I am crazy.Everytime I lost it on him I felt my soul ripping. I didnt have alot of dealings with the police or WA. I only now use the WA’s forum since I got out. I know I am very lucky to have my family to help me leave. So even though I grew up in abuse we know its not right and should be stopped. But we accept it. Many times I threatened my abuser that I would tell my family what he was doing to me. He always back downed when I said I would tell my family. He apologized and negotiated so I wouldnt tell. In the end though i guess after countless threats to tell them but not doing it he thought I never would. I finally told my mother. He is lucky to be walking because if I told most of the men in my family he would be severely beaten somewhere. Alot of people still dont know fully what is abuse. I read the stories here and my heart goes out to all the survivors. Education about this evil is so very important.

  • #52089
    Profile photo of iamme iamme 
    Participant

    Anewbreath you are right about education being needed. Women in our situation don’t always have access to information. Living with abuse normalises it, especially in a BME communities. We see it all the time and we think thats how normal people behave. I hope the next generation will be well armed with info.

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