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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.



After her marriage, Humaira says, ‘I was living with my abuser’

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Humaira grew up in a South Asian Muslim family. They lived in a close knit community in a very deprived urban area. 

She was sexually abused by two relatives, and later forced to marry one of them. 

Humaira’s older brother was her first abuser. The sexual abuse began when she was about six years old. He used to sneak into her bed, and the abuse included penetration. She believes her parents knew what was happening because they sent him away to live with a relative.

Some of her cousins lived a few doors away from her home. One of them, a boy in his early teens called Aaqib, started sexually abusing Humaira when she was still in junior school. This abuse continued until Humaira was in her early teens, when the family moved away. 

A few years later a marriage was arranged between Humaira and Aaqib. She describes how unhappy she was about this and although she told her parents she didn’t want to marry him, she felt unable to tell them why.

The wedding went ahead, and Humaira says it was a very difficult and abusive marriage. Being focused on her children helped her through the early years as Aaqib had limited involvement with them.

But as the children grew up it dawned on Humaira that she would soon be on her own with her husband. She became depressed and attempted to take her own life.

Humaira sought help from her GP, who referred her for counselling. She explains that in her community, any form of abuse is a taboo subject, and the opportunity to speak about her experience was very helpful to her. 

At first, she found it difficult to talk, but over time, the counselling enabled Humaira to make decisions about her future. She found the strength to leave the abusive relationship and get divorced.

Initially she found it difficult to engage in any positive relationships, describing herself as timid and shy. But she gradually gained more confidence and met a new partner who cares for her. 

A few years ago, Humaira reported the abuse to the police, but this has been a very frustrating experience. She does not feel her report was handled well. An investigation is ongoing, but Humaira doubts that any action will be taken.  

From her experience, Humaira feels that the police are reactive not proactive and that all the onus is on herself to progress the case. She would like this approach to change.

Humaira also thinks the community has a role in preventing abuse from being covered up. She feels very upset and angry at her extended family who have supported her ex-husband, her abuser, rather than her. She believes if the abuser had not been a family member, they might have been more supportive. 

She feels sad about this, but also says that she feels, ‘in a good place and is moving on’.

Humaira has happy and positive relationships with her partner and her children. To get to this place in her life, she has had to remain strong and accept being estranged from her relatives.   


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