I remember the dreaded feeling of school holidays coming up, looking around to see the fun everyone was going to have but I was returning to the nightmare between the four walls I lived in. It was having to face the physical, emotional abuse on a daily that was running my anxiety high!
It was the year before I finished my GCSES when my life turned for the worst; a family trip abroad in Pakistan was planned. I went with a couple of my siblings and we had our worst nightmare come to light before our eyes. This involved our passports taken away, threats being made, abuse etc (I will explain more in detail later on or in my public talks). Following this we arrived back in the UK and I started suffering from severe mental health issues in silence. My anxiety got worse, I started self harming and getting suicidal thoughts yet I continued going onto my studies without anyone noticing. This is when early intervention is school would have saved me from enduring many years of abuse to continue.
I left home at the age of 30 years old and what shocked me the most is throughout my education and work life I realised organisations were not equipped in being able to support anyone who may be facing any of the cultural crimes. I know many of you may be thinking, but why should we be equipped when there are plenty of charities out there that are equipped? Well as a survivor I know too well on how work or even school was my safe haven, they were places where I would spend most of my hours and became places where I can escape the madness. For me personally it would have been therapeutic having to approach colleagues, teachers or even managers in the hope of taking my first step to escaping abuse without hesitation.
I wanted to share with you tips and advice on how you can support your students or even your colleagues who may be suffering from abuse:
(Disclaimer: If you are suffering from abuse or know someone suffering from abuse please contact a professional like the police who can help you and in the case of an emergency please ring 999)
- Be prepared: Have information ready about charities, what they do and have leaflets etc that all staff have full access to.
- Have an open door policy: It’s so important to make sure you make it clear that you have an open door policy as it shows a sense of care and empathy.
- Create open dialogue: Keep the conversations flowing about raising awareness about abuse, help etc but refrain yourself from making judgemental views about cultures as this can make a victim hesitate if they feel embarrassed.
- Set up an in-house event to raise awareness: I have been to events where survivors have spoke about their stories and the impact it has on people is incredible. There are plenty of public speakers out there who are willing to speak openly including myself! So feel free to message me for more info if you are interested. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
- Set up regular welfare meetings or catch ups with students: having one to one time can give individuals a chance to speak openly without an audience. Always be discreet and be willing to take extra time if needed.
- Stay consistent: it’s always important to stay consistent with your messages and not lose interest as victims can take months or even years to speak openly about their abuse.
I will be sharing further tips soon on how to set up safe havens in your workplace or even school so stay tuned as I will be sharing a more detailed response.
If you have any questions etc please do not hesitate to email me on email@example.com