A mother and child by the fire A mother and child by the fire

Teresa’s story

Sold into unofficial marriage and abused

Teresa is a Czech national who came to the UK in 2019 with her now 9-year-old son. She was sold by an agent in her native Czech Republic into an unofficial ‘marriage’ with a man in the UK. As so often happens, she was promised a better life in the UK for herself and her son, with financial security and safety from the poverty and violence that was rife in her hometown.  Teresa described the first two years of her marriage and life in the UK as “beautiful and healthy.” But everything changed when Teresa wanted to visit her sick mother back home; her husband did not support this.

Although Teresa was eventually able to visit her mother, upon her return to the UK, her husband became physically, mentally, sexually, and verbally abusive towards her. She now believes that their marriage was arranged to regularise her husband’s status in the UK.

Teresa had no access to her finances, was not allowed to leave the house or access any form of medical treatment. Her husband falsely claimed benefits under her name and restricted her access to this. Several credit and store cards were taken out in her name, accruing a large debt. He would also regularly send money to Teresa’s mother back home to avoid any suspicion. Teresa’s son was regularly beaten, forced to do household chores, and restricted from attending school. He often witnessed his mother being assaulted.

One day, Teresa and her son were able to escape to a local police station after both were badly assaulted. They were placed in a Medaille Trust safe house and are now receiving a plethora of support from several external agencies such as social services, domestic violence support programmes and two national police forces. In a short time, this family have already been able to recover and build a brand-new life for themselves.

View more stories