"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Hayley and Manuel - Family of the Week

“I will give this country my all. In return I hope it gives me back my husband.”

Hayley is a British citizen. Between the ages 10 and 17, Hayley lived in Spain.

She is now 19 years old and is mother to 4-year old Byron.  Even though she was only 14 when she fell pregnant, despite being so young she decided to keep the baby.  Even at that age Hayley knew all she wanted was a family.

When the father of her baby turned abusive – emotionally, mentally and sexually - Hayley suffered for three years.  She was alone in Spain without financial independence and only her son as family – she felt like she had nowhere to turn.  There were times she considered committing suicide, but obtained strength and hope from her son, who also was her impetus to find the courage to escape.  She decided she did not want her son to witness the abuse; to see his mother being beaten and raped.

Hayley returned home, to England, believing here she would be safe.  She had many dreams.  She would continue her education and provide her son with a good life.  She felt free and ready for a fresh start.  However, the abuse had left its scars and Hayley sought therapy for the resulting depression, nightmares, flashbacks and general negativity.  Nothing seemed to bring about closure to allow her to truly move on.

It was then that Hayley met Manuel.  A police officer from Colombia who had been sent to England to learn English.  They immediately became great friends and then the relationship developed into more.  Seven years older than her, Manuel provides Hayley with the stability and maturity she needs. He is intelligent, kind and wonderful with children, including Byron.

Manuel understood Hayley’s pain.  He encouraged her to accept the past and love herself.  He would playfight with her, give her a reason to smile every time he walked into the room. 

For Hayley and Byron, their lives changed with Manuel’s presence.  He provided the happiness that had been missing and hope that their future could be bright after all.  They planned to marry in August 2012, before Hayley started university in October.

Just when everything was going well, it happened. The rules changed.

Hayley was devastated.  Here she was about to embark on university, with her husband by her side. And now she was being told employment not education should be her priority.  However at the age of 18, without a university degree, Hayley did not see how she would be able to get a job that paid over £18,600 anyway. 

So Manuel left England.  Hayley felt the effects of depression again, was referred to a mental health department and then diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Everything suddenly made sense.  She wasn't crazy.  She had just been affected by many things and finding happiness just to lose it again, felt worse than ever.

Hayley’s doctor recommended she defer university until she was better.  So Hayley decided to go to Colombia to be with Manuel instead.

Hayley and Byron joined Manuel in December 2012, though she immediately realised that Colombia wasn't where she wanted to be as it was dangerous and didn't offer good education for her son, let alone any future children she and Manuel may have.

She cried and cried; thinking about England night after night.  Manuel would simply tell her that one day she’ll be able to come home again. 

The stress caused further health problems, with Hayley suffering from chronic gastritis and IBS.  The doctors recommended she relax and return home where it would be safer.

Hayley ignored the medical advice - she did not want to leave Manuel.  In May 2013, the couple got married – not only making them feel like the happiest couple on earth, but providing Byron with his wish to have a daddy who would love and raise him.   Hayley feels every day that she and Byron are lucky to have found such a wonderful man.

When Manuel however was posted in an even more dangerous part of Colombia, they agreed it would be safer for Hayley and Byron to return home.

Hayley has since been in London seeking employment paying over £18,600.  She is spending a lot of money on babysitters just so she can attend interviews. She has given up on her dream of going to university.  She is heartbroken and at a loss as to what to tell Byron when he asks why his daddy is not with them.  How can she explain to a 4-year old that mummy doesn’t earn enough for the government to let daddy in.

Manuel is a good hardworking man. He isn’t a criminal nor someone who will sponge off the system or other people.  He is willing to leave his home and career to ensure a better life for his wife and stepson.  Manuel is now not only Hayley’s husband, he is also Byron’s daddy. 

Out of the first four months of their marriage, they have only been able to live together for one.  Hayley feels that she hasn’t even had the chance to yet learn what it feels like to be a wife. 

She feels betrayed and cheated by her own government.  How is it they expect her to find a job paying £18,600 while having a child to look after, being forced once again into single parenthood?  She needs time to heal and excessive stress is more likely to play havoc with her health.

Hayley is determined to help other people and has written a book about her experience.  She hopes to prevent teenage pregnancies and raise awareness of rape and domestic violence.  She is now an author having self-published her first book through Kindle, “Lead towards the unknown”. 

She has dreams and is prepared to give the UK her all.  In return she hopes the UK would just allow her to live with her husband.

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