R’s story

After two years of marriage and costly immigration applications, I arrived in the UK on a spousal visa.

Although I was looking forward to building a life with my British husband, he had other plans.

Shortly after I arrived, the emotional and psychological abuse began. He was often physically violent, and the sexual abuse left me traumatised.

He prevented me from opening my own bank account, and spent my wages behind my back. Once he began threatening to cancel my visa and kick me out of our home, I knew that I had to get out.

However, as a migrant survivor, I understood that leaving was almost impossible. 

With no recourse to public funds or services, I wasn’t able to access refuge or housing support. I was afraid that my ex-partner would revoke my right to stay in the UK at any moment. 

The prospect of detention and deportation was constantly hanging over my head.

Without assistance, I moved house and opened a bank account. Thankfully, I secured legal representation to apply for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence.

Meanwhile, the immigration application exhausted my finances and the Home Office kept my identification documents, leaving me without proof of my right to rent/work in the UK.

I suddenly lost my job and the financial independence that came with it. My health was deteriorating, but GPs refused to register me without ID. 

Without access to benefits or support, I felt completely alone.

I reported the abuse to the police, knowing there was a risk that they would share my data with the Home Office for immigration purposes.

Despite professional determinations that I am at ‘high risk of serious harm or homicide,’ the police failed to investigate my case properly or take meaningful measures to protect me. Instead, officers suggested that I return to my country of origin.

Unfortunately, I’m aware that my experience is not unique. 

Every day, migrant survivors in the UK are barred from accessing life-saving support. We are forced to stay with abusive partners for fear of being detained, deported, or worse.

Whilst the Domestic Abuse Bill has just been reintroduced in parliament this week, it does not include vital protections for migrants like me.

That’s why I’ve been campaigning alongside the Step Up Migrant Women coalition to ensure that the Bill is amended to provide equal protection to all survivors, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, or immigration status.

More than two women lose their lives each week in England and Wales as a result of domestic abuse – at this point, I can only hope that I won’t be one of them.