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Marriage Hell: My abusive arranged husband kicked me so hard our baby died & threatened to torch our house after I refused an abortion

PEERING out of her bedroom window at the 12ft drop below, Tina Kenworthy uttered terrifying instructions that would send a chill through any parent: “Throw the quilt down and jump!”

The frightened mum was teaching her sons how to escape their three-bedroom home in Leicester, in case her “monster husband” carried out his vile threat to burn down their house with them inside.

Tina, 49, had every reason to fear he’d go through with it – she claims he’d already dragged her down the stairs by her hair, beaten her up and kicked her in the stomach while she was pregnant.

After meeting her husband just twice, she was pressured into marrying him when she was 23.

Tina fell pregnant two months later, and says she noticed a radical change in his personality.

By the time their fourth son was born in 2007, she claims he was drinking excessively and taking drugs – and if she refused to have sex with him, he would attack her.

After 13 years of “torment”, Tina finally separated from her husband, but was dealt a devastating final blow – he left her in £40,000 of debt. 

Customer service team leader Tina has finally found happiness with a new partner, despite her family struggling to accept him at first because he wasn’t “chosen” for her and came from a different community.

She hopes by sharing her experience, it will encourage others in situations like hers to seek help and find a way out of abusive relationships.

Tina tells The Sun: “I felt like there was no escape. My husband became controlling very early on in our marriage and when he started to drink he would hit me for no reason.

“I tried to leave him multiple times and fled to women’s refuges but I didn’t feel strong enough or able to leave him for good.

“One of the worst times was when I was pregnant with our second child. He wanted me to have an abortion but I couldn’t do it and he turned really, really nasty.

“He kicked me in the stomach so hard that my baby stopped moving. Even after I had a stillbirth, I didn’t feel I could report how he was treating me to the police.

“Another time in the early hours of the morning, he grabbed a chunk of my hair and pulled me down the stairs to the kitchen because I refused to cook for him.

“At that time I was having panic attacks in the middle of the night and slept with my bedroom door locked and a knife under my pillow just so I could feel safe.

“I had to teach our boys how to jump out of the window because he threatened to set our house on fire while we were sleeping to burn us all alive.

He kicked me in the stomach so hard that my baby stopped movingTina Kenworthy

“During the worst parts of the marriage, I considered suicide because I couldn’t see another way out but I knew I couldn’t leave my boys with such a monster.

“It’s a miracle I survived and thankfully, I’ve now found a husband who truly loves me. I’m still dealing with the emotional abuse but I’m thriving and getting my life back on track.”

Pressured into marriage

Tina, who’s a Hindu, says the fear of “bringing shame” upon her family prevented her from feeling able to leave her husband sooner and her relatives often stressed divorce “was not an option”.

She was born in a small village in Shahkot in Punjab, India, and two years after moving to Britain in 1993, she returned to marry a stranger 18 months her senior.

She claims it wasn’t a forced marriage but it was “rushed” and she didn’t have time to get to know her future husband.

After returning to the UK she soon began to feel “trapped” by her husband’s increasingly manipulative behaviour.

After losing her second child in June 1997, Tina’s mental health nosedived and she became reliant on antidepressants.

Due to her husband controlling their finances, she struggled to find a way out of their marriage.

I couldn’t say no to him, if I did he would beat me up or tell my family I was not being a good wifeTina Kenworthy

She explains: “I was looking for a way to escape and the only way I knew how was to improve my education so that I could become financially independent.

“When I started university he became even more aggressive because he was losing control over my life and doors were opening up for me.

“In his eyes, he had control over my body. We were sleeping in separate rooms and he would force himself on me regularly.

“I couldn’t say no to him, if I did he would beat me up or tell my family I was not being a good wife.

“Due to him being a man they would take his side nine out of 10 times.”

Masked abuse

Tina claims her ex-husband would put on a front while visiting her relatives and played happy families so they would never suspect a thing.

“He was so manipulative, we would have a fight and then in front of my family he would be laughing, smiling and telling them how much he loved me,” she adds.

Tina claims she called the police at least 15 times during their marriage.

“In 2003, he was charged with actual bodily harm for assaulting me really badly, but pleaded guilty to common assault,” she recalls. 

“At that time he was truly horrible to live with, when he was drunk he would shout, scream and threaten to break the door down.

“In our culture, when you’re married you are your husband’s responsibility, which leaves so many ladies and young girls trapped in abusive relationships.”

In 2008, Tina finally left her husband after receiving advice from a women’s refuge about how to get a divorce and apply for financial assistance. 

He was so manipulative, we would have a fight and then in front of my family he would be laughing, smiling and telling them how much he loved meTina Kenworthy

She underwent a support recovery programme from the Helping Other People Everyday (H.O.P.E.) Training, which helped her to work through the trauma she endured.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved, I’m empowered and believe in myself more than ever thanks to the counselling I’ve received,” Tina says.

“There are bad days but I have worked to become independent, mentally stronger and able to cope financially.”

Since their divorce was finalised in 2012, Tina claims she has not seen her ex-husband after he “fled”.

“Looking back I’m a much stronger person now and despite him taking out £40,000 in personal loans, I’m working to pay off what we owe,” she says.

Finding love again

As Tina slowly pieced her life back together, she joined the online dating site eharmony in 2014. 

A year later she met Andrew Kenworthy and the relationship was a world away from what she’d experienced in the past.

They married in 2017, and Tina says she now knows what a loving relationship feels like.

“We have arguments like any couple but we listen to each other, can give our opinions without fear and speak honestly with one another,” she says.

“My boys see it too and tell me, ‘Mum, you deserve this.’ When I look back now I feel like I’m lucky to be alive and to have found such happiness.”

Honour-based abuse on the rise

Abuse after arranged and forced marriages have come into the spotlight after a spike in recorded crimes across the country. 

New figures reveal that ‘honour-based’ violence has risen 81 per cent in the last five years – from 884 in 2016 to 1,599 last year.

The data, which came from 28 out of 39 constabularies after freedom of information requests by The Guardian, didn’t surprise several charities who spoke to The Sun.

They said the true extent of the problem is considerably worse than the figures suggest because many people do not feel safe reporting abuse.  

Meena Kumari, of H.O.P.E. Training, and Yasmin Khan from The Halo Project, are calling for more to be done.

“I believe this rise is the tip of the iceberg,” Meena tells The Sun.

She believes specialist training should be compulsory for all police officers, constables and volunteers and a national strategy to ensure all crimes of this type are recorded.

Meena also has called for more funding to investigate the “low number of charges and fall in conviction rates” to work out how best to help victims.

Yasmin echoes these calls for better training to recognise the abuse and more assistance for those trying to leave abusive partners.

It’s estimated that between 12 and 15 people die each year in the UK from so-called “honour killings” – but Yasmin insists that figure is “a huge underestimation”.

Among the victims is Banaz Mahmod whose family plotted her murder in 2006 after she left an allegedly abusive marriage and chose a partner of her own choosing.

Yasmin says: “Families will not report a missing man or woman to the police and there are also people who have been taken abroad and killed.

“Some will go to great lengths to protect their family’s honour, including hiring bounty hunters. We need to do more and respond better to save lives.”

For information or help visit get in touch with the Halo ProjectH.O.P.E Training and Consultancy or Karma Nirvana.

Tina’s story will be published in the book The Story Of My Life book and also featured on the Positive Minds podcast, shared by the mental health charity Our Solutions CIC.

Official data on forced marriages in UK may hide true scale of abuse

Figures showing that 1,220 possible cases of forced marriage in Britain were reported to the authorities last year may not reflect the full scale of abuse, the Home Office has said.

The official figures show that the number of cases reported to the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) via its public helpline or email fell by 3%, or 47 cases, in 2015, continuing the downward trend of the last six years.

The unit, a joint Home and Foreign Office operation, received 350 calls a month and offered help or support in 1,220 cases. Some of the 350 were repeat calls about cases, or were about other issues, including divorces, annulments and sham marriages.

Almost 80% were from professionals, colleagues, friends or family, and only a small proportion from victims themselves.

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Forced Marriage Campaign: Seasonal Reminder Ahead of Easter School Holidays

Ahead of the start of the school Easter holiday, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and West Yorkshire Police is reminding people of the signs to look out for of forced marriage and honour-based violence.

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor.

From June 2014, it became a crime to force someone to marry against their will.

Over the school holidays intelligence suggests that there tends to be an increase in forced marriages. In the run up to, and over the easter holidays, officers are working with schools, airport staff and the wider community in raising awareness of the signs to spot that someone may be being forced to marry against their will or be a victim of honour-based violence.

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New video shows impact of forced marriage

The Forced Marriage Unit has released a new film to demonstrate the devastating impact of forced marriage on victims and their families.

Timed to coincide with the October half term – school holidays are always high risk period – the hard hitting film builds upon the Government’s world-leading work to tackle the issue at home and abroad.

The aim of the film is to raise public awareness of the impact of forced marriage, and warn of the criminal consequences of involvement, building on the outreach and education work of the FMU. Told from the perspective of a victim’s older brother, who is complicit in arranging her forced marriage but unaware of its true impact until it is too late, the film represents the first time the FMU have directly targeted family members.

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An award-winning charity, which rescues women from forced marriage and hundreds of young people from radicalisation, faces closure in a matter of months if it does not receive further funding.

Founded in 1989, JAN Trust was originally set up to support marginalised and isolated communities in north London, but has since expanded to reach people across the UK.

However, it only has sufficient funds to keep its services running until March 31 this year.

ajda Mughal, director of the charity, said that their work had “saved lives” and that she would “dread to think” of the consequences if the charity closes down.

“We have worked one-on-one with victims and intervened in cases of honour-based violence within families, FGM (female genital mutilation), forced marriage, and even cases where a woman’s life has been at risk at the hands of her own family.

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Newham has second highest number of reported honour based crime in London

Statistics from a Freedom of Information request to the Met revealed that Newham had 59 reports of honour related crime since 2010.

According to the figures, the borough came joint second with neighbouring Redbridge for the number of reported honour crimes in London, while Brent topped the list with 82 incidents.

Sudarshan Bhuhi, chief executive officer of Stratford charity Aanchal Women’s Aid, said she was not surprised by the figures and that she believes more incidents may be going unreported.

She added: “The issue is quite close to my heart.

“I have been working in here and the economic divide is so diverse – there’s not enough funds for specialised support.” Balvinder Saund, of the Sikh Women’s Alliance (SWA) in Ilford, explained that the “idea of honour” was still present.

“It’s about control and subservience. These old ways of thinking should be left behind – there’s no place for it,” she said. A Newham Council spokesman explained confidential support is available to all victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

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Forced marriage in Britain: It nearly happened to me

Last year in the UK, 1,267 people were assisted by the government’s Forced Marriage Unit. Add to this the number of people supported by specialist independent charities, as well as local police forces up and down the country, and you have a figure running well into the thousands. In Channel 4’s powerful documentary Forced Marriage Cops (going out this evening) director Anna Hall and her team follow the work of police officers in Greater Manchester as they investigate 250 cases of forced marriage over the course of 12 months.

This wasn’t an easy programme for me to watch. It’s been almost 20 years since the police and local authorities helped me escape from my family because of abuse and the threat of forced marriage. So much time has passed now, and it’s more than jarring to see past experiences reflected so powerfully on camera in the lives of other women like my siblings and I. Forced Marriage Cops focuses on the stories of several women, and each one illustrates the different ways that victims can be affected by forced marriage.

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Students team up with police for project on honour based violence

A group of students within the English Department are set to work on a new project with Cambridgeshire Police to help tackle the growing problem of honour based violence within the UK.

The project, dubbed ‘Operation Synergy’ aims to use the plot of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to create a mock case which will eventually go to trial, and be extensively documented and filmed to produce a training aid that will help to educate new police officers about honour based violence, and how to deal with the issue.

The students involved will largely be responsible for creating and independently managing the social media profiles of the characters that feature in Romeo and Juliet, using the text as a springboard to develop individual modern-day personalities and posting regular updates to play the story out in real time, with the Montague family on Twitter and the Capulets on Facebook.

One perception that the project is trying to address is the association of honour based violence as a crime (or crimes) committed to protect or defend the honour of the family or community, with largely ethnic or religious minorities.

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Forced marriage in the UK? It’s a bigger problem than you think

Last month, seven British survivors of ‘honour’ abuse and forced marriage spoke out in public about their experiences. They explained how it felt to be abused by those closest to them – their family and community members – in the name of ‘honour’. This marked the UK’s first ever Day of Memory for victims of ‘honour’ killings.

The survivors spoke about how their families’ rules, or ‘honour’ codes, forbade them from doing things that many of us take for granted, from texting a boy to wearing make-up. They talked about how they were made to feel as though this was normal, and that the abuse that resulted from breaking these ‘honour’ codes was their own fault. Some talked about how they felt as though they had nowhere to go as no one outside their community was listening or willing to believe them.

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