What I am most passionate about is helping people in need. I love working with and supporting them to help improve their circumstances and their quality of life.
I was in an abusive marriage for 10 years. I wasn't beaten, but there was a lot of emotional abuse and threats.
I was born in South Africa, but moved to the UK in 1998 after getting married to my British husband. I realised very quickly that the man I fell in love with, was not the same man I married. He suffered from depression and controlled every aspect of my life. I was not allowed to have my own bank account and had to pass all my money over to him. He also threatened that if I ever left him that he would make sure that I would leave the country with nothing. Over the years I tried leaving a few times, but he had such a hold on me that I kept going back to him. I was lonely and weak and believed that nobody cared if I was dead or alive.
I didn't think anybody would believe me, as I didn't have any bruises to show... I tried getting into a shelter for women, but was told that I was not a high enough priority to them as I was not in a violent relationship. I would have to pay, but I had no control over my money, as he had access to all the bank accounts.
In the end he would not let me see my friends, I rarely spoke to my family and he would follow me when I went out. On occasion he would threaten to kill himself and storm out of the house. I was so lonely and I did not have the support of my family as they were too far away and he alienated me from my friends. It took me a long time to build up the courage to eventually leave. I ran away and lost everything, the house was repossessed, he took everything else and I was left with a lot of debt to sort out. I thought my life was over. It was a very dark time for me, but I discovered that I had more friends than I thought. One of my friends let me stay with her for a couple of months before I found a small flat near to where I worked.
Then I lost my job, but I thank God that I was living in the UK, as I was able to claim benefits to pay for my flat and have a roof over my head. It was winter and very cold. I had no heating, no furniture and no winter clothes as I had to leave it behind in the house. I managed to buy some winter clothes at a charity shop and used Freecycle (second hand items that people give away) to get a bed, fridge, curtains and bedding. I was angry for having to live like this, but my friends helped me.
One of them was a friend I have known for as long as I have been in the UK. I discovered what a wonderful man he is and we have been together for 4 years now. He is giving and caring and he loves me for who I am.
And this is where I am now. In May 2008 I thought my life was over. In December 2012, I am with a wonderful man who loves and support me. I am sorting out my debt. I have almost completed my degree in International Development, which I started in 2009 and was mostly funded by grants. I am not rich and I don't have a permanent job, but I am so thankful for everything that I have. I don't want money or things, because they can be taken away from you in an instant. I also know that there are so many women who are far worse off than me and I have absolutely nothing to complain about.
What I care about and am passionate about is helping other women and girls live in freedom and safety, so that they can have control over their own lives and have a voice.
My Passions: International Development and Aid
My Challenges: Finding a new career helping women and girls
My Areas of Expertise: Administration, Communication and interpersonal skills, IT skills, finance skills