A FORCED marriage victim is hoping changes to the law will make more women reach out for help.
The woman got involved with Karma Nirvana after managing to break free from an abusive forced marriage that she had been made to enter when she was just 12.
She said she came home from school one day to find a ceremony had been planned for her and her cousin, who was 23 at the time.
The mother-of-four said: “I was told to go upstairs to my bedroom and within an hour the whole house was full and I was dressed in a bridal outfit.
“There were a few foul words that I said and I was shocked. But my parents were not aware of what was going on. They were in a situation where if they said no to the marriage, my father was disrespecting his mother.
“It was difficult and I did not know where to go.
“You stop dreaming once you are forced into marriage. Your life is already laid out.”
She said she had wanted to study art and drama at university, but had not been allowed.
She was eventually taken abroad and made to marry the cousin.
Initially she was treated well, but after a while, was mentally, physically and sexually abused.
The woman said: “When you are brought up this way and you do not know any different, it is hard to understand and it was not until later on that I started to question it.”
She said she was given the strength to leave the marriage when her husband spat at her in the kitchen, which her eldest daughter witnessed.
The woman said: “It was a bit like the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“I did not want my daughters to be in the same situation.”
She is now helping Karma Nirvana to raise awareness and added: “Had this law been in place years ago, I would not be in the situation I am.
“If you have got any doubts, please do something about it. If nothing else, call the Karma Nirvana helpline.”