We know from our feedback that our services really do help women to understand and use their legal rights and to make safe and confident decisions in their lives.
Read the stories of some of those women here
“When I left my home I thought that I would never be able to go back. Rights of Women told me my rights and gave me the confidence to represent myself in court, something which I never thought possible. I’ve since obtained both orders and am so relieved that both my children and I are finally safe”
Fatima has been married to Jon for 8 years and they have two children, Mia (3) and Kerim (7). Throughout their marriage Jon has been verbally abusive and physically aggressive. Once a confident and independent woman, Fatima’s self-esteem has been eroded by the constant humiliation and fear that she experiences on a daily basis. One day Jon came home late from work, smelling of alcohol, and in front of the children, punched Fatima hard in the stomach. Fearful of what else might happen, Fatima grabbed a small bag and the two children and fled to a women’s refuge.
On arrival at the refuge she was given the telephone number for our legal advice helpline. When our adviser spoke to her she was very distressed. She said she did not know who else to turn to. She wanted to return home, but she was not sure whether it would be safe. Our adviser explained to Fatima what her legal rights were and how the law could help. She told her that a non-molestation order could protect her and her children from Jon’s violence and an occupation order could exclude Jon from the home. The adviser told Fatima how she could apply for this protection, sent her our free Guide to domestic violence injunctions and invited her to call back if she wanted any further advice.
“If it was not for the advice given to me by Rights of Women, together with the online resources and information sheets, I would not have been as informed as I am now or in a position to report the violence I experienced to the police. I felt believed and supported which helped me emotionally. Legal back up is so important, thank you.”
Maggie telephoned our legal advice line after one night her boyfriend forced her to have sex with him. She said she had been unable to resist him and had been too afraid to tell anyone or do anything the following day. Maggie’s mother had recently died and Maggie was extremely distressed. She felt that her boyfriend had exploited her at a point when she has been particularly vulnerable. She had contemplated suicide.
Our adviser talked to Maggie about what the law says about rape and consent. She was also advised to seek medical treatment and specialist emotional support and was given the contact details of other organisations that could help her. Our adviser talked to Maggie about reporting the offence to the police and the protection she is entitled to in the criminal justice system. As Maggie was finding it difficult to decide whether or not to report her boyfriend to the police our adviser talked to her at length about the pros and cons of reporting or not reporting the offence. We sent Maggie a free copy of From Report to Court: a handbook for adult survivors of sexual violence to provide further information and to help her make her decision.
Maggie contacted the advice line on a number of other occasions in the following months. She decided to report the offence to the police but the Crown Prosecution Service decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge her boyfriend. During each call our adviser was able to talk Maggie through the legal and practical issues. She was also able to advise her about other legal remedies such as applying for a non-molestation order to protect her from her ex-boyfriend.
“Thank so much. You gave me hope today”
Rosa called our advice line because she was experiencing violence in her relationship with her boyfriend, a British citizen. She had originally come to the UK as a student 5 years ago, but had begun a relationship with someone on her course.
Her boyfriend had become controlling and verbally abusive and his behaviour had meant that she felt unable to continue studying. When she stopped attending her course, her student visa was cancelled and she remained in the UK without valid leave. Rosa became pregnant, and this lead to an increase in verbal abuse from her boyfriend. There had been some physical abuse but Rosa felt that she did not have any options but to stay in the relationship because she had no immigration status. After her baby was born Rosa called us because the violence continued and she was worried for her safety and the safety of her daughter. She explained to our Advice Line Gateway Assistant that she had called the service because it was anonymous and she felt sure that she would not get into trouble for not having a valid visa.
One of our legal advisers telephoned Rosa back within 2 days and spoke to her about her immigration options. She discussed with her whether she wanted to remain in the UK or to return to her country of origin. Rosa did not feel safe to return as an unmarried mother. Our adviser outlined her options for her, including claiming asylum, or making an application based on her family and private life. Our Advice Line Gateway Assistant had previously sent Rosa a copy of our legal guide Women, Families and Article 8 and so our adviser was able to talk with Rosa in more detail about making an application.
Our adviser explained to Rosa that without access to legal aid to make a family life application, she would need to complete her own application and signposted her to charities and legal clinics that could assist her. The adviser also spoke to her about her options for financial support, whether she wanted to stay in her boyfriend’s property or leave, and advice on approaching her local authority for assistance. The adviser advised Rosa on her baby’s nationality and how to make an application for her baby’s passport.