“Abuse is like being in a war film, where people are imprisoned because they don’t know anything beyond it” Nazma Khatun says
“I am no longer a victim to him, I went through a tough time, but it’s only made my relationships with people better. It’s made my life better” Nazma Khatun, a counsellor and psychotherapist from Manchester tells me.
Nazma Khatun, a single mum of two children, changed her life for the better when she divorced the man who left her homeless with their six-month old daughter.
She now works with women who may be going through similar experiences as she did and aims to challenge and change the limited beliefs they may have about themselves.
In 2017, she opened her own practice, working from home in Levenshulme. She did this after working in the field of psychotherapy and counselling for ten years but this all came following many years of abuse and hardship.
Soon after she left sixth form, Nazma was taken to Bangladesh and was introduced and married to a relative there.
She said: “I got married to someone I didn’t know, I hadn’t seen. When I got back, I knew that there was no compatibility and there was just nothing there. I ended up getting divorced at 19”.
When she accepted a new job in a small office a few months later, Nazma received a proposal off a man she was working with but had not dated.
Nazma accepted the proposal thinking it would be a new beginning and that he was going to be the man of her dreams.
She explained: “There was so much pressure at home, being the eldest and getting told that nobody would ever marry me again, that I had brought shame onto the family, so I did it. I thought I bagged myself a handsome, charismatic guy”.
Now, as a psychotherapist and counsellor, she realises that the warning signs were there but just didn’t think of him as abusive when she married him.
“I had a similar abuse pattern in my home life, you know, getting shouted at when I lost my keys or when I left the window open. You just think it’s only small things, I thought it was normal. I just thought he was a little hot headed like my dad was, but I was naive.
“When I was growing up my dad was strict, boys weren’t in my radar, I didn’t really speak to my brothers and my first encounter with a boy was my marriage” she said.
From the moment the abuse all began, Nazma knew that her marriage was going to be challenging and managed to file the divorce after 10 years.
She said: “I told him so much about my past, how hard the first divorce was, and I put him on a pedelstal from the moment I met him, so he used it all against me. Anytime something would go wrong, he would say ‘I will tell your family’ or ‘I will divorce you’.
“At that time, he knew that getting divorced was my biggest fear, I really didn’t want to go through that again” she added.
Nazma described her marriage to be like a “rollercoaster, a really fast one where you have little relief as it comes down, but the cycle continues, and you drop again”.
She continued: “I ended up in hospital numerous times, I was homeless with my six-month-old daughter at one point because he’d kicked me out and taken everything, it was just too much and there was this big ordeal throughout our entire marriage”.
After getting divorced, Nazma followed through with her passion within the field of psychology and qualified as a psychotherapist using her experiences to help others.
“It’s really interesting how we think that nobody will believe us when something like this is happening. That is what abuse does to you, they tell you you’re emotionally unstable and you believe it. It’s reverse psychology because as soon as you’re ready to stand up for yourself, you’re in defence mode”.
She views abuse almost like a war film, where people don’t want to leave because of the lack of skills they have, they stay imprisoned because they don’t know what it’s like beyond it.
“That is the power of being in an abusive relationship. You tell yourself it is going to get better because you’re so afraid of what might happen if you leave” she said.
Nazma took up counselling two years into her marriage and found herself telling people what was happening when she lost her keys or forgot to close the window at home.
“There is a lack of people talking about domestic abuse and taboo around the subject. We need to stop victim shaming, the idea that you have done something wrong, so a person can hit you? No, there is nothing, nothing on earth that you can do to make it okay for someone to hit you or abuse you for” she said.
She believes that the idea of victim shaming within culture and religion is ludicrous and found going to Imam’s (Muslim leader) difficult whilst married.
“My religion is everything to me, I could not have gone through this without it but some of these people I went to speak to said ‘have sabr’ (patience) but that is not what sabr is. Sabr is not staying in a marriage getting beaten up, it is perseverance and fighting depression.”
Nazma speaks her faith as something that kept her going and believes that people who are in abusive relationships are in dangerous grounds with whatever faith they have.
“You wake up in the morning, you think about whether he’s pleased with you, whether you’re dressed right, whether you’re doing enough, all to make sure that you are okay. I think the divorce is just a small part, the real issue is what abuse does to your faith and mindset” she said.
Nazma encourages women to take action, whether it is big or small, to read, to learn and to expose themselves and to break the cycle of abuse.
“There are so many services out there to help you, many are free, some available in the middle of the night that don’t come up on your phone bill. I used services such as Women’s Aid who really helped.
“Do this for you because investing something like this is so important and it could change your entire life” she said.
Nazma has set up a YouTube page to share seminars which is over at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8gm032LPp44H3NU_m-vgvA/featured
Social media has become something we are always using and interacting with wherever we go and has become a large part of our daily routines. We are always being bombarded with tweets, Facebook notifications and Instagram posts every minute and every hour. Most of us probably can’t live a week without updating people on our lives through social media but is social media driving us all loopy and into madness?
In 2015, research carried out by Statista highlighted that there were 1.5 billion active users of Facebook users and 400 million users of Instagram alone. Then in 2016, they found that there were approximately 320 million users of Twitter; this is set to rise in upcoming years with more and more people joining social media sites.
According to Social Media Today, the average person spends nearly two hours on social media each day which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months over a life time.
The site estimates that the number of worldwide users of social media is expected to reach 2.95 billion by 2020 and 650 million of these users are expected to be from China alone.
Blogger and Politics Student Charlotte says that she is guilty of “being on her phone a bit too much” and spends her evenings roaming and reading through content posted on social media. However, though she is constantly updating herself with news and blogger content, she never spends too long on it at a time. Charlotte thinks that social media can impact someone’s way of viewing themselves and has admitted feeling the same.
“I look at a lot of successful bloggers than myself who are travelling and working with every brand under the sun and sometimes I do feel a little insecure, however, I understand that it does take time and it makes me super happy to see so many people be a success and do what they love.” she said.
Also according to Statista in 2017 the number of users of social media worldwide is estimated to be around 2.46 which is estimated to increase every year following up to. 2020 with it being 2.9 billion users then.
“Social media is great sometimes, especially for bloggers and journalists. It’s changed our world view and it’s keeping us updated constantly with all the celebrity gossip but also important things such as hard core news” a Student Journalist from Sheffield said.
Student Lizzy from London says that she deleted her social media accounts when she was studying for her A Levels but started to use them again as it is a great way to talk to friends and see other people going through the same struggles she was going through.
In May, The Royal Society for Public Health found that Instagram was the worst social media platform on the impact it has on young people’s mental health. The report also identified that about 90% of young people use social media (more than any other age group) making them more vulnerable to its effects, though there is no evidence for this.
“A blogger or journalist is no longer confined to only posting their content on a blog or newspaper, but they are able to post their work on social media sites such as Instagram and even Snapchat”. a student from Manchester described.
When asked if social media ever makes them loopy (to a point where they feel they over use platforms) seven out of the ten people asked said that they sometimes do need to take short term breaks. Some said that they felt that the pressures especially from Instagram posts sometimes do make them think they need to be a particular way. However, they all said that they never let it affect them too much and feel that they can control their use of social media platforms.
I carried out my own twitter poll to see how many hours people spent on social media platforms a day and here are the results:
A couple of weeks ago, I was out with some friends discussing some interesting topics and organ donation came up in conversation. Most of us said that we would actually be up for the idea, it would be helping to change people’s lives and that’s something we all want to do. However, someone did argue that it would be their organs, do they really need to give them away? What if you wanted to be buried with all your organs in place because that’s what makes you human right? Why would you give your heart away? It’s your heart.
I decided to take this discussion on Twitter and I tweeted out a poll. Below are the results of my twitter poll.
It’s clear to see that those who answered the poll thought that organ donation should definitely be encouraged after death. I then took it on to talk to a few people about their thoughts including Youtuber SubPixel. He has recently signed up to become an organ donor. Bloggers including Caitlin and Louise have also recently signed up to become organ donors and both discussed why they have done so.
SubPixel said that he had signed up to become an organ donor because it’s a great thing to do. It is also something that will help someone who needs the help and would be the last nice thing he could do in this world. He added that it is important because you don’t necessarily need them when you die; was trying to get his friends to sign up to become organ donors too.
Caitlin, a blogger from Newport, said that she had recently signed up to become an organ donor as both her parents and her brother have already signed up. She thinks it is crucial for us to help those who are in need of organs as it would be completely changing their lives for good. Caitlin said that she decided to sign up after three weeks of thinking about it as it is something big. She had always imagined herself being buried with her organs as it seems to be the ‘normal’ thing to do. However, she also said that with the rise of organ donors, from what she knows, a lot of people will probably love the idea of organ donation anyway.
Louise completely agreed with Caitlin’s thoughts and said that she signed up to become an organ donor two years ago when she turned 20. Louise is a Mental Health blogger from Essex but said that become an organ donor has allowed her to understand her body a little bit more and the importance of maintaining your organs as healthy as possible. Though Louise believes that it is important to help those who need the organs after you die, she did say that she would not want to give away her heart as she feels that nobody should have her heart – it is hers and will remains hers.
Though most people I talk to about organ donation say that they are more likely to sign up and give their organs away rather than keeping the organs for themselves, there was 19% of those who answered the poll who thought that you shouldn’t need to be encouraged to give your organs away after you die.
Someone did message me on Twitter saying that they don’t like the idea of giving away their organs because it’s just ‘bizarre’. We’ve all been given our own organs so we should keep them, he said. We shouldn’t have people telling us that it’s a nice thing to do because we could still be nice people; just not wanting to give away our insides.
What do you think? Do you think we should be encouraged to give away our organs when we die? Get in touch!
Last month I tweeted out a poll to see if people on twitter think that there are enough facilities for mental health sufferers. Though the poll didn’t apply to a specific area, it did conclude that 93% of those who completed the poll thought that there were not enough facilities.
Rosie, a 21-year-old mental health blogger from Crewe, said that she received help through child services in 2013 after a 18 week wait. She believes that the situation is reaching a crisis point and that there needs to be more done about it. Rosie’s only option was medication after going back as an adult patient but feels that there should be more easily accessible options for everyone, regardless of whether they have already had help before or not. Rosie took on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and with this, she has been able to work on her anxiety.
“Without sounding cheesy, it has changed my life. I was so sceptical at first but it really worked. I didn’t like leaving the house before but now I’m at university.” she said. She also said that she believes that mental health facilities are needed more now than ever, even if people are able to access mental health nurses at school if they need them.
Through blogging, Rosie has been able to help people who are facing similar problems she was a few years ago. She’s been able to also meet like-minded people and share the same goal of breaking down mental health stigmas.
Similarly, 18-year-old Chloe from Manchester, said that she thought that more needs to be done about the mental health services available to people. Chloe has been on the waiting list for counselling for almost three years and has been told that she is not a ‘high risk patient’ therefore has to wait leat another year. Chloe believes that there needs to be more services available especially towards the counselling sector so people like herself don’t need to rely on medication. With more services, the stigma of mental health can continue to break down.
You can read both their blogs in the links provided at the bottom of the blog post.
Another blogger, who wished to remain anonymous said that she believes the stigma of mental health is still prevalent. Now 17, she still struggles with her anxiety often up at 3am completing breathing exercises and calming herself down. She said: “To improve mental health services, I think it’s definitely to give the same resources and money that is given to physical health and the same consideration”.
Similar to Rosie’s suggestion, this blogger said that there needs to be done within school personal development focusing on mental health of students as there are always external causes and there can be so much more done.
18-year-old Harriet said that there was an ‘obvious’ lack of resources. Harriet found the child services much better than the adult services. With the lack of funding of adult services, she has only been able to receive six sessions before having to go back on the waiting list. Harriet however believes that the services available are really good and staff make the most of what they’ve got. Harriet has found services such as Samaritans and Kooth have been really helpful but believes staffing levels need to be increased.
All four of these emphasised how they believe that there need to be more services and support available for mental health suffers. With more services, more individuals are able to get the help they need. However, there was someone who said that the mental health services available to them had actually made the anxiety worse.
By talking to someone at the sixth form with many different people around, people they knew, it made it feel more uncomfortable rather than how it was supposed to be. There was not enough support available and he believes that the best tool is to help yourself as nobody knows yourself better than you.
Contact the bloggers I interviewed:
Blog link – https://ourrose.wordpress.com
Twitter – @rosiebsteele
Blog link – https://mysecondattemptthistime.blogspot.co.uk
Twitter – @mysecondattempt
Spring Reign – A story from the Syrian Conflict:
“Spring Reign” follows Aisha and Salah, two Syrians who have given refuge to two unexpected Westerners during the war. The play connects photographers, journalists and ordinary people to the Syrian crisis and aims to provide a platform to promote discussion and understanding. It has successfully used real life personal stories to educate those who don’t entirely know what is currently happening in Syria or wish to learn more about it.
When talking to Ben Power, I asked him a few questions starting with how the tour was. The play has been performed on ten different stages beginning at The Lowry in Salford and finishing at a festival theatre in Hyde. Though it only went on for a month, according to the director, the team were highly successful in achieving their aims and goals to begin with. Ben Power said:
“We’ve been able to hear people really appreciate and hear other sides of the Syrian stories. We’ve also been to bigger cities, with more diverse audiences, people with all sorts of different backgrounds coming to watch this play. Again, we’ve had a really fantastic response with these audiences”.
The play has taken a few years to become exactly what the team have wanted it to become. In 2012, the production of the play came into place and a little bit of work was done at Imperial War Museum in Salford in 2013. By 2015, Spring Reign had been taken into the Lowry and a theatre mill in Bradford. It then took a further two years, now 2017, for the play to have travelled around the U.K and for the tour to have taken place.
When asked why the play was called ‘Spring Reign’ Power said:
“While the ‘Arab Spring’ presented hope and positivity through the Middle East, the conflict in Syria has become a humanitarian crisis like no other. In Syria, it was quashed by the oppressive government and his Assad’s reign of terror”.
Director Ben described the play as doing exactly what it aimed to do. With the main stream media showing us the horror and consequences of the Syrian conflict, the play has allowed viewers to see how life has changed for ordinary people such as Salah and Aisha. It has brought communities to come together to understand the extent of the conflict and to find out about organisations who are helping these civilians in Syria.
When I asked him how he’s found the tour, Spring Reign director said: “Very rewarding. My team and I were accepted by the Syrian community and they’ve really supported us with the play. They have had a positive attitude toward it and in some way allowed us to advocate for their cause and it makes me proud that we’ve been able to do this.”
Following on from this, he said that the feedback for the play has also been really good with press releases and audiences showing really good feedback. People have said they were moved and humbled by the performance; that many did not realise the impact the war had on the volume of ordinary people and this play has really shown that. The play has covered topic such as hope and resilience and audiences have really been able to engage with that.
Spring Reign has and is working two charities, Syria Relief and Rethink and Rebuild. Syria Relief are a Manchester based charity which take aid to Syria and work with medics. They also train people on the grounds in Syria and aid them with the basics, such as food and water. Syria Relief have been able to remain the livelihood of the people of Syria and have been able to keep people busy and active.
I then asked him what he thought the solution of the current conflict was. He said that there isn’t a single thing which would be the solution to the crisis. “Nothing can change until civilians are protected. Once people are given safe places and they are allowed to live their lives again without fear. The people who aren’t a part of the opposition groups or the different fraction who oppose to fighting against the government, they need protecting. Once this has happened, there will be space for dialogue”.
The director said that the idea of Spring Reign came by chance, with little background as a political theatre maker, he did not know whether he would enjoy it. He hopes that the work he creates has an impact on the people who watch it, that it encourages them to ask questions but also educate themselves on important topics which affect mass amounts of people.
To find out more about the director Benedict Power and more of his work go to: