When I was 22, my situation was really difficult, I had experienced domestic violence and abuse from my immediate family mainly due to cultural and religious expectations from them. Because of this I was in and out of school and unable to obtain any qualifications.
Before this, when I was 14 years old I was forced to go to Yemen to live with my father. He would keep me indoors constantly and I developed severe anxiety, depression and OCD. When I came back to London I fled my family home on numerous occasions. I would sleep on buses or sofa surf, anything to keep me out of there.
I was eventually linked up with New Horizon and I was then placed into their hostel; H1824. NHYC advocated on my behalf with the council and I was told I was priority need when I completed my housing application. Once this was sorted, I was connected to a specialist Solace domestic violence worker and Youth Legal Support services solicitor. I was then referred to a specialist housing project that would understand my situation. That was great as the hostel is located in an area that I wanted and there are support staff on site this week. I now feel safer and like I can start thinking about my future.
*Zara's name has been changed for safeguarding reasons.
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