This is Asuman’s Story
On the day that Asuman had arrived at Women’s Place, she had gone to the store, bringing groceries home for her family. As was typical, when she arrived home her husband accused her of having an affair. She put down the shopping bags and began to explain to him that she had been at the store, but he continued with his jealous rage and eventually a fight ensued. In front of their daughter, he punched and kicked her until she was almost unconscious. Finally, using all his force, he covered her head with a pillow. After several minutes he let go of the pillow. He told her he was going to the store for cigarettes and that she had better be here when he returned.
After he left, Asuman’s daughter dialed 911. The police arrived at the home quickly and took Asuman and her daughter to the police station to file a report. Her husband did not return to the house while the police were there. Once they arrived at the station, an officer called Asuman’s husband and asked that he come down to the police station to answer some questions. He agreed and arrived at the station a short time later, filled with the same rage that he had earlier that evening. “When he saw me at the station he lunged for me. I was so scared. The police officers quickly grabbed him and took him into another room. This was all so confusing for me. I didn’t speak English, so I had no idea what the officers were trying to tell me or where they were taking me. My daughter translated for me until my friend arrived.”
“The officers were incredibly kind to me and my daughter. They took us back to our home to collect our things and I still remember my daughter telling me we were going to be ‘ok’ as she packed her Barbies to take with her. She was such a strong little girl.” After they gathered their things, Asuman and her daughter were dropped off at Nova House. Asuman told me that when she arrived at Nova House a woman with blonde hair and a red shirt greeted her with a warm “Hello Dear”… “She had such a sweet voice. She kept asking me questions, but I couldn’t understand what she was asking me”. The following day, the staff at Nova House arranged for a translator to come in to ensure that her situation was evaluated correctly and all her needs were met.
“They were asking me questions such as: Where were you born? How long have you been in Canada? Where was your daughter born? What happened that night?”. She explained to the staff that he was abusive from the start and that she never wanted to be with him. In Turkey, there was shame on the family for a woman to be unwed with a child. Asuman’s father died when she was twelve and as Turkish tradition dictates, her family was now in the care of her three brothers, who she felt threatened by and who forced her to marry. Asuman and her daughter stayed at Nova House for three months. Because of the circumstances and repeated violence throughout her relationship with her husband, Asuman was considered to be at high risk. This means that her husband was still a threat to her and her daughter even given the fact that she was staying at a place that had 24-hour surveillance.
Not long after arriving at Nova House, Asuman met our Legal Advocate Alice. Over the next few months, Alice would be her constant companion to the many trips to her immigration lawyer’s office in Toronto and to the criminal and family court proceedings in Niagara. “I remember Alice would come to pick me up at 5:30 am in the morning for the long drive to Toronto. Some appointments would take up to 5 hours. Alice was so caring. She even packed me a lunch, telling me ‘here’s some fruit, you’re probably hungry’. Alice is an angel”.
“We had to take different routes to court, just to make sure that he wasn’t following us. Alice even arranged for the police to be present when I arrived at court. I knew what my husband was capable of. I expected him to be there waiting for me, ready to finish what he started. We never went through the front entrance of the court house, it was always the rear or the side entrance. It seemed like I was always going to court. He missed 4 of 6 court appointments and eventually, I was given custody of our daughter”.
Not long after her husband got out of jail for the abuse he bestowed on Asuman he violated his parole and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Scared of returning to jail, he found his way to Ottawa where the Turkish Embassy granted him permission to return to Turkey. Asuman and her daughter have not seen or heard from him since.
When I asked Asuman how her life is now, she smiled and said “Awesome. I have a full-time job and my daughter is doing great. She’s twelve now, and last year she received student of the month 4 times. I am so proud of her. My life has changed completely since I came to Women’s Place. My partner and I have a beautiful baby boy. I couldn’t be more proud of my family”.