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Supporting survivors of violence regain independence.

A specialist provider of culturally competent social services, Shakti ensures the immediate safety needs of vulnerable migrant and refugee women and children from Asian, African and Middle-Eastern backgrounds.

The women and girls that Shakti supports have gone through horrific culturally-sanctioned forms of violence including forced and underage marriage, dowry abuse, and honour-based violence.

One such woman is Jhoti.

Forced to marry at the age of 16, Jhoti is a mother of three. For almost twenty years she suffered physical, emotional, financial, psychological abuse from her husband. He kept her completely isolated from her community, and so Jhoti had no access to social services.

The final straw came when her husband punched her face, kicked her knees and seriously injured her legs. But instead of taking her to hospital, he sent her to Fiji - and threatened to kill her if she came back to New Zealand.

Jhoti’s brother and mother contacted Shakti, and arranged for her to return back to New Zealand to be with her children. Staff picked her up at the airport, and quickly settled her at one of Shakti's Auckland refuges.

In the early stages of her stay, Jhoti was highly dependent on the support of her caseworkers. With low self-esteem and poor self-confidence, she found it difficult to stand and move easily on her own without falling due to her injuries and calcium deficiencies.

She had both physical and learning disabilities as result of her husband's long-term abuse, and also suffered from depression.

But with the support of Shakti, Jhoti slowly started to build the courage to make her own life decisions, such as managing her finances and having the confidence to pay bills for the first time.

She attended their life skills programme, as well as the court-approved protected person’s psychoeducational programme, and was assisted with finding housing through Housing New Zealand.

Jhoti has now safely moved back into the community, and has built up so much resilience that she herself can't believe how much her life has changed. With friends that she freely visits, she is continuing to learn new skills to be self-sustainable, such as English language classes and CV writing workshops.

Shakti recently received a Grassroots Giving grant towards a course to help other victim-survivors of family violence from migrant and refugee backgrounds such as Jhoti. The course will specifically address the main barriers and difficulties in gaining employment and financial independence here in New Zealand.