This page is here to give you some general guidelines, but your first port of call should be to contact one of the charities below that deal with honour based violence day in and day out, or your local police.
If you’re worried about a direct threat of honour based violence, or a percieved threat (e.g. there’s a risk that you don’t know what your family will do, and one believable scenario is violence) you should try and reach out to someone who canhelp you.
What is honour based violence (HBV)?
HBV is when there is an incidence or violence which might have happened to “protect” the honour of a family, community (faith or otherwise).
Honour based violence occurs in countries as wide-ranging as Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda, the UK and the USA (based on report submitted to UNHCR).
Often HBV comes from family members or people from the wider community who mistakenly think someone has brought disrepute or shame to the family or wider community. Examples of what could count as “disrepute or shame” includes:
- have a boyfriend or girlfriend
- have a boyfriend or girlfriend from a different culture or faith background
- wanting to leave a marriage (arranged or otherwise)
- wearing clothes not accepted by a conservative community or family
- taking part in activities not accepted by a conservative community or family
Here’s a super important point: HBV doesn’t have to mean physical violence. They can include domestic abuse, threats of violence (beind told you will be hurt if you do something or don’t do something that affects the family honour), psychological and emotional abuse, forced marriage, being held against your will or taken somewhere you don’t want to go.
In case we weren’t clear: psychological and emotional abuse can be seen as HBV. It is very common for people who have been psychologically or emotionally traumatised because of honour not to recognise that their abuse is just that, honour based abuse. They often feel like they are being the “bad child” for being traumatised and can internalise the violence. You’re not alone, and you’re definitely not crazy.
What can you do:
No matter what, contact an organisation or charity that works directly with HBV, local is better. They will be able to advice you better as so much of the advice will have to be customised for your specific situation, location, context, etc.
If you are sharing your issues and problems with friends, make sure that your phone and computer is password protected. Parents, siblings and extended family sometimes do look through the social media, emails and photos of people at risk from HBV.
Here are some HBV focussed organisations that might be able to help:
Karma Nirvana – Particularly North of UK. Sensitive to faith issues in our experience.
Southall Black Sister – They are very sensitive to faith issues in our experience.
IKWRO – UK based with particular experience with Middle Eastern and Afghani women. They are sensitive to faith issues in our experience.
Albert Kennedy Trust – UK based, focus on LGBTQ issues.
If you feel at risk or in danger, contact the police or social services. But also contact a HBV specific charity if you can too, as they can help you communicate your issues with the police better. If you do not live in a country with police that you can trust, it might be worth asking someone in authority who you trust (e.g. a trustworthy teacher) which local charities or NGOs might be able to help. Important note: If your HBV issue is to do with your leaving faith, be careful of being passed to faith-based organisations or religious leaders.
You are welcome to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try and find you an appropriate organisation to contact.
You might not want to talk to a family member or close friend about things that are so very difficult and/or personal. If this is the case and you are struggling, you could try one of the following help lines:
Samaritans 116 123 (UK) (available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts)
Saneline 0845 767 8000 6pm – 11pm every day (practical information, crisis care and emotional support)
No Panic 0800 138 8889 10am – 10pm every day UK Freephone (for people experiencing panic or anxiety problems)
Aanchal 0845 451 2547 (24 hour crisis line for Asian women experiencing domestic abuse)
NHS and other services: If you need to you can contact your GP on the usual number during surgery hours. Outside of surgery hours you can call NHS Direct 111, and the team will direct you to the most appropriate care.