Sumaya's* Story

I arrived in one of Hestia’s domestic abuse refuges just before Christmas a couple of years ago with my daughter, Azra*.

We’d fled domestic abuse by Azra’s father. I met him at university and we married shortly after. At first everything seemed OK. He was a little possessive and controlling, but at the time I thought he had reason to be.

The years went by and I slowly lost contact with my family, becoming more and more isolated. When I became pregnant he refused to let me see my parents and when Azra was born it got worse. I lost my friends. I wasn’t allowed out of the house alone, unless it was to take Azra to nursery.

It was the nursery staff who picked up on the delay in Azra’s speech development and they told me that she needed to see a speech therapist. I managed to get her referred and she was put on a waiting list.

The abuse continued to escalate and both the police and social services became involved. I was told to leave my husband and find a refuge, otherwise I would risk having my daughter taken away.

I took the leap of faith. I contacted a Hestia refuge and within 24 hours I was there.

I registered with a new GP and waited for Azra to get a speech therapy appointment. After six months of living in the refuge, we were still waiting. Azra had turned five and I was preparing for us to leave the house, but there were no housing options available for us in that local area.

The window of opportunity to treat her speech development was running out and I really didn’t know what to do next. Moving borough would mean a home for us, but it also meant a new waiting list and starting again with trying to get Azra to see a specialist.

Knowing that our situation, as a result of the abuse we experienced, could affect Azra for the rest of her life made my heart break. I feel let down and I constantly worry for Azra. I know that if the system was different, she could have had the professional support she so desperately needed.


Alongside UK SAYS NO MORE, we're asking for the upcoming Domestic Abuse Bill to ensure that:

  • Children are not omitted from the Domestic Abuse Bill

  • Children affected by domestic abuse receive priority access to schools

  • Child survivors are given special waiting list status (protected status) for all NHS services including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Support (CAMHS)

Read our current response to the draft Domestic Abuse Bill