Is your family using scriptures to make you do something you are not comfortable with?
Is the pressure just too much? Are you feeling overwhelmed?
Are your family members shaming you for behaviour that seems normal for most of your friends/ classmates?
Is the honour of your family/ community or religion more important to them than your well-being or ability to make free choices?
Are you experiencing domestic abuse, coercive control or culturally-rooted abuse?
Are you leaving the faith your family believes in, and are you uncomfortable about revealing this to them?
Have you been seem holding hands/kissing with someone outside your community and are worried for your safety?
Are you being bullied because you are perceived to dress too western/ different? is your family under pressure to make you behave like the rest of your community?
If you feel your life is in immediate danger/ or you are at risk of bodily harm, please call 999 now to talk to the police.
We offer HBA survivors an opportunity to participate on the Unfurl program without committing to a schedule because we understand how chaotic life can get.
Honour based abuse is a collection of practices used to control behaviour within high-control families in order to protect
perceived cultural or religious or community beliefs and/or honour.
I prefer talking to someone on the phone: Call Karma Nirvana 0800 5999 247
I would like to access Unfurl, and get one on one, non judgemental support on your survivor-designed HBA program.
If you have any questions or wish to get in touch, don't hesitate to contact us
If you want to read more about what you may be experiencing:
Honour Based Abuse and Coercive Control within High Control Communities.
Coercive control is a sinister, and sometimes subtle, form of domestic abuse that entraps you in a hostage-like situation.
It can be any combination of oppression/ monitoring/ shaming used to instill fear/ break confidence. The perpetrators will use tactics, like limiting access to money or monitoring all communication, as tools with which to control your behaviour so you lose agency/ free will.
Here is what coercive control might look like for you:
1. Isolating you from your support system
A controlling partner will try to cut you off from friends and family or limit contact with them so you don’t receive the support you need. They might suggest or insist on:
shared phones between family members and or access to passwordsyou’re your social media accounts.
moving you far away from your friends or any supportive family member so that it’s hard to for you to visit them
monitoring all your phone calls with your friends/allies in the family
If the perpetrators can ensure your only exposure is to family members or homogenous community group then the abuse will become normalised. You will think this is normal: no point in struggling/ seeking safety.
2. Monitoring your activity throughout the day
Community policing is common in high control communities or communities where collective honour is seen as more important than individual wellbeing.
Perpetrators may feel omnipresent. The taxi drivers, delivery staff, and neighbours may all be part of your family’s reporting network, and you might feel watched every time you step out of the house. This means your prison extends into the public space.
Perpetrators may hack into your email, read your messages, listen into phone calls and keep track of who you befriend outside of the family unit.
Abusers may broadcast or share what they find on your phone/ computer as a means of further humiliating you and emphasising the boundary violation.
Perpetrators within the family may, depending on their resources, wire your room/house with cameras or recording devices, sometimes using two-way surveillance to speak to you at home during the day.
3. Denying you freedom and autonomy
Families or individuals may also try to control your freedom of movement and independence.
Some methods include:
not allowing you to go to work or school
restricting your access to transportation
insisting on accompanying you when you leave the house
monitoring or dictating what you wear when you step outside the house
taking your phone and changing all your passwords
4. Accusing you of bringing shame/ putting you down
Perpetrators may call you names like “shameless”. Abusive family members from high control communities may also use scriptures and holy verses to bully you into following a code of behaviour that may not match normal behaviour that you see in the streets (for example religious or cult texts.)
You may be shamed for mixing with men/ other genders. You may be accused of talking to strangers/ particularly men (threatening to a community that is insular or seeking to control members.
Saying that you have shamed the family, made them lose the hard earned position/ honour they earned as migrants in the community, saying you don’t deserve to live, etc.
This breaks your self-confidence, makes you feel worthless, unimportant and deficient.
5. Limiting your access to money
Controlling finances is a way of restricting your freedom and ability to leave the relationship.
Some ways they’ll try to exert financial control include:
telling you they will handle money matters because it is too complex for you
refusing to let you start a bank account of your own.
hiding financial resources
preventing you from having a credit card
monitoring what you spend, how you consume
6. Constantly reinforcing traditional gender roles
Perpetrators will insist that women are homemakers and mothers, while men are the income generators and therefore the ones who venture outside. Using this argument, they will not just keep you trapped indoors, but also may coerce you into slavery-like conditions, where you are taking care of all the cleaning, cooking, and childcare, with little or no time to reflect on your situation.
7. Turning your siblings/ kids/ cousins against you
Perpetrators in your family or community may try to weaponize your nieces/ cousins/ children against you by telling them you have brought shame to the family, or driven a family member to an illness, or belittling you in front of them. This may leave you feeling powerless, helpless and frustrated.
8. Controlling aspects of your health and body
Perpetrators may monitor and control how much you eat, sleep, what kind of exercise you do, what you do in your spare time and what you read.
Your abusers may require you to count calories after every meal, expecting you to slim down or fatten up, depending on the cultural norm in your community. They may monitor how dark you are becoming/ exposure to the sun. Or what you are wearing when you emerge from the house, also commenting on the pitch of your voice/ laughter and or any expressions they deem unsuitable. (making you wear more and more conservative clothing to make you hide yourself, to make you invisible/ lose confidence).
9. Threatening your children or pets
If physical, emotional, or financial threats don’t work as desired, your abusers may try to use threats against others in an attempt to control you. For example, your siblings/kids or pets may be at risk.
This can look like:
accusing you of bad parenting and threatening to take your children the community’s country of origin to be re-educated
accusing you of being a bad role model and threatening to take you and your siblings to the ‘home country’ to be culturally re-conditioned even if you were born in UK
intimidating you by threatening to make key decisions about your you’re your kids or siblings lives without your consent
threatening to kidnap your children or get rid of your pet
Leaving and finding safety:
If you have decided to leave an HBA situation perpetrated by your partner, family or community, the process can be complex, even more so when children are involved. But with a bit of planning, you can make a safe exit from the situation.
Here’s what you can do:
Maintain communication with your support systems whenever possible. You may encounter resistance. Press on. You should also make sure family and friends have all of your contact information and check in on a regular basis.
Call a domestic violence hotline regularly. Keep track of where your nearest public phone is and call Karma Nirvana helpline 0800 5999 247 to talk through your options with a trained professional. You can also download the Bright Sky app that you can keep on covert mode, hidden on your phone as a weather app with domestic abuse and hba support resources.
Practice how to get out safely, and practice often. If you have kids, teach your kids to identify a safe place, such as a friend’s house or the library, where they can go to for help and how to call the police.
Have a safety plan. Explore how to make one, what to think through (link).