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Looking at Reya you could never guess what a painful life she has led.

She is used to looking after everyone – except herself. So it wasn’t until she was 50 that she eventually started having counselling at Woman’s Trust, after a lifetime of abuse.

Reya’s family are from India. She was born into a family where it was a woman’s duty to look after the men- no matter how badly they abused you. Reya survived a traumatic upbringing and married when she was a young woman, hoping to create the loving family environment that had been denied her.


In the early years of her marriage she didn’t realise she was the victim of domestic abuse.

She thought this was what marriage was like: the husband controlling her money and social life, the wife expected to cook and clean and not question his authority.

However, the abuse increased as the years went on.

Reya became more and more controlled and the abuse became physical and sexual too. Reya was treated like a servant and permanently put down and ridiculed and humiliated. And this only got worse after the birth of her two children. But Reya came from a culture where divorce is shameful: she believed she must stay loyal to her husband and put family honour first.


There was more tragedy for Reya when her third child died in infancy.

Rather then being comforted by her husband, she found out he was cheating on her with a trusted family member. Reya has now left her husband after years of abuse of every type. It has not been easy for her to leave; she still feels the pain and shame of divorce and losing her longed-for family. Her husband has also financially abused her, not only leaving her with very little money, but also running up debts after their separation and putting these in her name. Reya is still working to clear the debts and her name.


However, despite all she has gone through Reya feels she is slowly healing.

Through attending all of our services she has started to express herself and make sense of her experiences in 1-2-1 counselling. In the support groups Reya learned she was not alone and it was not her fault – abuse can happen to anyone from any background. And in the workshops Reya has started to learn about breaking patterns of abuse, what trauma is, and the psychological impact abuse has had on her and her children. Reya is also gradually starting to value herself more and make boundaries with people.

Healing from domestic abuse can be a slow and painful process, but Reya can feel positive change is happening. For the first time in her life, she is starting to look after herself and have hope for a future that is free from abuse.