Shana was born into a family where domestic abuse was prevalent on a day to day basis. "Coercive control was programmed into us from a young age". Physical violence and emotional abuse were normalised. South Asian communities were/some still are very patriarchal. We were raised in domestic abuse, and we never knew it was wrong. We were conditioned into submission and knew our place in society as girls, women, females, less than.
Shana's family's tolerance to abuse was higher than your average person. Making the family very vulnerable and easy prey to abusers to manipulate, exploit, and control.
Shana had a challenging upbringing due to all of the adverse childhood experiences she endured. Shana was very creative, artistic, yet not very academic due to undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD traits. Poor grades in school and truancy were the norm. Shana ran away from home twice at the age of 11 and 13, yet was let down by services and returned home back into the abuse. Shana became involved in gangs from east London and after moving up to the north, she became involved in another gang. The Gang culture and the gang mindset was where Shana felt she most belonged. Shana explained in hindsight how the feeling of belongingness, boundaries, respect and purpose were all present in being part of a gang, something the young mind yearned back then. The confusing part was even though all 6 children and mother experienced Domestic Abuse, not all of Shana's siblings took the same path as Shana. Why was that?
Forced Child Marriage
Shana was forced into a marriage at the age of 17, due to being too 'Westernised'.
Shana was deceived into going to Bangladesh and was abandoned there for over a year. This Abandonment was only targeted to Shana and not her other siblings. Two other siblings were also forced into marriage later on. Upon returning to the UK, Shana plucked up the courage and left her forced marriage. In the name of so-called honour, Shana’s father tried to take her life, in two separate occasions, once in the home of her inlaws and once after Shana was coerced back to the family home. In Shana's culture, her father's behaviour was acceptable as a woman was seen as a Man's possession. Honour was more significant than life. "All I remember was leaving the house with no shoes, in my nightclothes, I wet myself and my eyes were still hurting from the feeling of not being able to breathe". Shana fled for her life, left her home, with an unborn child inside her, relocated by the Police to an area unknown to her father, where there were no family ties. Shana then entered the system. The system fed Shana a story that she was a victim, reassured her that she would be looked after. Shana was taken advantage of, as she never knew anything better. No direction and lacking self-worth. Even at the age of 18, she had a mental/emotional age of an 11-year-old.
Used and abused by many, lacking confidence and self-worth, shy and timid. Shana eventually left the women's refuge, with the help of a lady named Hilary, Shana was rehoused and her first child was born. Shana focused on raising her child as a lone parent and put her unresolved trauma to one side. Shana began to gain confidence as a mother, still vulnerable to predators, Shana met good and bad people through that journey. Experiencing exploitation and what is now known as modern slavery, every painful experience came with important lesson.
Eventually, around 2007 with the help of strangers, Shana learnt how to drive, pushed into university, underwent an honours degree in business mgmt, became President of a University Student Union. Shana faced structural racism and never fully understood what she experienced was domestic abuse and continued to live life without understanding the fundamentals of a healthy relationship.
Shana still yearned for her family that disowned her after she fled. Shana drove to visit her mother, her mother use to hide her under the stairs, at times of her secret visit, with Shana's very young child. Shana met her mother away from the family home, near a local library, away from any eyes that might witness the shame and dishonour. Anytime Shana's name was mentioned in the family home, Shana's mother received a beating from her father. Shana's name was not to be said, if it was, it was in Shame, or this was an excuse used to abuse other members, a reminder to others to never be like Shana.
Separated from family
Shana's life transformed away from her family home... she was seen to be a very strong woman in her new community. An unknown sense of confidence. Unresolved trauma was still present, yet masked well.
In 2012 with the overwhelming duties Shana had in a University setting, and dealing with challenges of structural racism, Shana remained vulnerable. Shana was stalked for some time online by someone who later became her abuser. Shana entered into this abusive relationship all by herself, naive and without any question, not recognising the red flags, this was the beginning of more trauma, Shana faced all forms of abuse, however felt too embarrassed to question, as this abuser used religion to control and coerce. Shana faced all forced of financial and economic abuse. Shana wasn't allowed to work, or finish her studies.
There were signs that the perpetrator had a history of irrational abusive behaviours, stalking, and violence and unknown to Shana. The perpetrator was a compulsive liar from the beginning of the relationship, the perpetrator was violent towards his own family, the perpetrator stalked and harassed his ex-partner before Shana. The Perpetrator was suicidal and never took personal responsibility for any of his behaviour, for some reason Shana felt responsible?? Without education on the signs of toxic behaviours and what a healthy relationship looks like, many are trapped in abusive relationships, one after the other.
Cycle of abuse
Shana justified the perpetrator's behaviour believed this was due to the perpetrator's ex partner being the person in the wrong?, or the perpetrator had a challenging upbringing, maybe the death of the abusers father years ago? Or perhaps it was as the perpetrator described always 'someone else's fault' (this was used to excuse the toxic behaviour etc). The perpetrator used religion as a reason for being aggressive frequently, as though it was his Devine right, Shana believed her love and kindness would change the perpetrator, because Shana herself has changed throughout her lifetime. If Shana can transform, anyone can right? Shana didn’t realise the sociopathic tendencies of her abuser and Shana was never taught the foundations of a healthy relationship.
Was it Shana's kindness that allowed her to tolerate such abuse, or was it Shana's lack of self-worth? Lack of knowledge? This naive school of thought quickly led Shana to become further trapped in the cycle of abuse. Shana kept giving too many 'one more chances'. This is very common in abusive relationships.
2nd Forced Marriage
Shana was Forced and pressured into a religious marriage no.2. when the community put pressure on for a religious ceremony. After a pregnancy that was not permitted to be terminated, no understanding of setting any boundaries, Shana’s life was turned upside down. The perpetrator used community pressure to trap Shana and control her every move.
The perpetrator was a master in manipulation, while Shana became an expert in managing the abuse to protect what reputation she had left and to keep her children safe. The Shame, Guilt and fear of Blame consumed her. The perpetrator tried to take Shana's life, yet this was interrupted by Shana’s first child. The perpetrator used the same religious tactics Shana's father used on Shana to control her. Shana's voice was lost.
Shana experienced everything from sexual abuse, physical abuse to being trapped in coercive control. The perpetrator used various tactic; honour, shame, violence, fear and religion to control Shana for years.
Reaching out and support
Shana never reached out to anyone due to shame and stigma. Even though all the signs were there to friends & neighbours, the key question was never asked: "Is everything OK at home?".... Instead, friends use to say the perpetrators seemed to be very obsessed and Shana should feel lucky.
Comments like "Which Muslim man would take on another man's child?" As though Shana should be grateful that there is another Muslim man interested in Shana - a single mother? The cultural bias to Domestic abuse was shocking. The 'victim blaming' was normalised. Shana approached a Muslim women's only group, who reiterated the shame and dishonour, that Shana should stay with the abuser, as she was a mother of three, as though Shana was tainted, death would be better than being a single mother.
After 2 more children who came from this abusive relationship. Shana wasn't allowed to terminate any pregnancies from the abuse. Every time Shana fought back, the abuser coerced and blackmailed her back into submission. Shana put on the extra weight and was hidden away and isolated from the world. Shana did fight.. yet the skeletons of her past kept her shackled to the abuse, there was no way out.
Eating disorder, domestic abuse and stalking.
The abuse brought back an eating disorder. The perpetrator's obsession and monitoring of Shana was very sad, violating and frightening, the feeling of hopelessness was all she knew. This feeling was normalised. The perpetrator isolated Shana from accessing help, tracked Shana via tracking software which was covertly placed on Shana's phone, hacking into Shana's emails and social media accounts was the norm. The perpetrator Deleted any/all males friends from her phone contact list. Forced Shana to wear certain clothes. Shana was violated in so many ways; the perp use to Covertly video recorded Shana due to his perverted behaviour, which became worst by the day, the abuse was so normal as though it was the only way to survive. The perp used explicit videos, private audios to control Shana further, Shana fought back numerous times yet could escape the abuse. The perpetrator filmed events and used these videos and audios of Shana to blackmail Shana back into submission. The perpetrator made Shana's life hell. Shana experiences typical textbook intimate partner violence, coercive control, economic abuse and honour-based abuse. All in the name of honour.
Unnoticed Danger and escalation
The abuse became worse each week that passed, Shana's inability to recognise the danger, due to normalising the abuse, downplaying and denying the abuse, justifying the abuse, the feeling of hopelessness and shame always took over. At times Shana fought back, swore, screamed and broke down and she did whatever she could to get the perp away...There was no way out. The perp lived 3 minutes walking distance away from Shana. He moved right next to her In order to monitor her every move, the level of obsession was suffocating or example the perpetrator would regularly bring sandwiches to Shana's next-door neighbours in order to steal Shana's post or look through the windows. The perpetrator did his very best to look like 'Mr Nice guy 'in public.
Any relationship Shana entered in would be destroyed by her abuser.
In 2017 Shana slowly took back control of her life, with the help of good people around her she slowly built her confidence. New people entered Shana's life. Shana still couldn't see the danger she and her family were in. Shana felt she was managing the abuse, "So long as you don't make him angry you were OK". The abuser now abused other members of Shana's family due to losing control of Shana. Shana was stalked and harassed before the perpetrator's behaviour deteriorated within months of Shana entering into a new relationship, this time the perpetrator couldn't break the relationship of this new person who entered Shana's life, everything escalated Very quickly.
Escalation due to loss of control
After threats of burning Shana's home down. Abusing and tormenting other family members. On October 13th 2018 the perpetrator cut Shana's CCTV on both sides of her house and her phone line. Cutting 3 camera, internet lines and phone line. Planning to commit something far more sinister.
After the incident, the penny finally dropped, Shana's brainwashed mind was shocked into reality, she couldn't manage this abuse any longer. Shana had to flee her home of 17 years. Leaving everything behind. Shana finally reported the perpetrator to the police, and Shana still couldn't expose everything due to the repercussion and shame attached to domestic abuse.
Huge Loss and Systemic failures
Shana and her children lost everything. Shana lost 45k on her home. Shana's daughter lost everything she knew. Friends, family, business, everything was lost overnight.
Shana fled again, and this time with 3 innocent children who all entered the system. The system tried to feed Shana the same story again." Poor little victim.. poor Shana.."
Shana realised that she had been here before, in 2002. This time Shana rejected the story, she fought and struggled for answers, strangers and good people helped transform Shana's life. Shana educated herself around domestic abuse. Had time to reflect on her past traumas. Shana listened to podcasts and life transformative content online. Shana educated herself everyday living in the refuge. "Fearless soul I am"...
"Nobody ever explained to me it was domestic abuse, I never understood the dynamics of DA, I never knew the cycle of abuse, the signs of DA, trauma boding, Stockholm syndrome, functioning parts of the brain, I never knew there was a choice".
Support Network, Community and Education.
Shana turned her life around as did her children, Iysha re-built her life in a new school, Isaac and Sammy began to talk and communicate, they stopped living in fear. Shana went a step further and developed a programme to help others in the community, "the Best Me Programme", which uses neuro-linguistic and the Duluth Model to empower and educate the public.
" Traditional methods didn't work for me, however understanding myself and the cycle of DA helped me overcome"
" Traditionally methods of overcoming abuse is traumatising, it creates co-dependency and disempowers"
"My method was to take personal responsibility for my life and everything that's happened, good and the bad, so only I had the power to influence my present & future"
" reframing events helped me so much, why waste your life being stuck in the past? when you can create something so much more Inspiring and spectacular"
"The system doesn't understand Domestic Abuse from a victims point of view, especially DA around certain cultures within society"
"The police reassured me the perpetrator will be charged with stalking and harassment, however, CPS let us down, due to their lack of understanding of honour based abuse, so I know first hand the justice system isn't fit for purpose as it isn't trauma-informed, it's underfunded, overstretched and out of date"
Shana and her family are now protected by a non-molestation order. (This is available to anyone who is being harassed or stalked as a result of Domestic Abuse)
"We lost everything but gained our freedom, which is priceless, waking up knowing that nobody is filming you, watching you, following you, has perverted and fixated actions towards you...makes me feel free from the prison that I once lived in"
" Never again will this happen to me, I know the signs of DA, I can now protect myself and others"
Shana has won many awards for her grassroots work in the community, raising awareness around Domestic Abuse, helping others free themselves from abuse and helps those who perpetrate DA. Shana helps people learn how to manage themselves, via self-compassion, compassion for others, understanding how personal belief systems are formed via past experiences and environments, helping others live a life free from abuse.
Shana helps bystanders of DA and educates the public on what to do if they spot DA. Shana uses her 25 years of the lived experience of domestic abuse to help raise awareness and influence policy.
"Domestic Abuse is everyone's business. It's time we step up. 2020 is no place for DA, eliminating DA can only come via collective collaborative action. People led. Survivor led. With Ex perpetrator input. Society needs to own it and understand how by doing nothing allows DA to thrive in communities"
" my story is similar to many, yet these stories are hidden away because of the shame and stigma"
"Patriarchy plays a huge part, it hurst women, children and men"
"The lack of education and the question 'what does a healthy relationship look like?' plays a part"
"No more Shame, those days are over"
"Those who desire power and control over others only want this control, because they have no power or control over their own life, their own thoughts, emotions and actions, so do not fear perpetrators, just pity them, help them help themselves by teaching them empathy and by sharing a better way of living"
" The lack of understanding of emotional regulation and dealing with loss and failures plays a huge part"
"Perpetrators can only change when they take full responsibility for their actions and want to change, not forced to change, force only creates counterforce"
"You can not force perpetrators to change, they need to understand empathy and compassion, learn better ways of dealing with their thoughts, emotions that lead to abusive behaviour, if they knew better they would do better, however they are so stuck in their toxic ways. Only those who are genuinely willing to help perpetrators can truly help perps change their behaviour, quality support is needed"
"Perpetrators who harm and have serious mental illness, permanent brain injuries, psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies are a threat to society, we need a perpetrator strategy and sustainable funding to keep society safe, Domestic abuse is a public health issue"
"We are a society that constantly dances with the symptoms of DA and never the cause..."
"Governments and DA organisations cannot end DA, DA thrives amongst communities that don't challenge DA or understand DA. DA will only end, if everyone makes a conscious effort to educate each other around the signs of abuse and challenge DA within their circles, via a collective collaborative approach, without the blame or shame"
"A message to all the victims and survivors of DA, remember bad things will happen to you that wasn't your fault, however, it's absolutely 100% your responsibility to help yourself, educate yourself, protect yourself and grow yourself, so reach out, get the help and never give up, it will not be easy leaving an abusive relationship, it will be the fight of your life, but it will be a worthwhile fight, after all the pain and navigating through the broken unfair system, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel, trust the process and grow through the pain"
"Never fear pain, because within the pain there is an opportunity to grow, learn and transform yourself... the past you, isn't the present you..never forget there is always a choice"" You can't expect to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results, as Einstein said, that is insanity. So why do we not invest the correct education within society to change the way we respond to domestic abuse? DA is everyone's business"
"from a victim I became a victor, and you can too... it's start with taking responsibility for everything in your life"
Life after Abuse
(Shana's mother left her abusive husband, all of Shana's siblings had their own journey.. everyone now plays a significant part in transforming society, Public servants, Judiciary, Police, NHS and local government)
For more information on how Shana overcame and info on 'the best me programme' Shana delivers please contact us, email@example.com