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Covering your tracks

Have I brought shame on my family?

You may have been told you have brought ‘shame’ on your family or community, or given them a ‘bad name’. When someone in your family or community hurts or threatens to hurt you because of this, it is called honour-based violence (HBV).

Peer mentoring: a young girl discusses her family with an older girl

Many young people experiencing HBV think its their fault, but it's important to remember nobody has the right to hurt you because you have taken decisions or actions that they may not agree with.

Because HBV often happens in families and communities, it is really important to get support outside of the family to help keep you safe.

 

Why is this happening?

Your family or community may say you have brought ‘shame’ on them because:

  • you are in a relationship with someone from a different religion/culture
  • you do not want to marry someone your family wants you to, or you refuse a forced marriage (when someone is made to get married even though they don’t want to)
  • they do not agree with the clothes you wear and the way you dress
  • you are gay, lesbian or bisexual.

However, all young people are individual, and just because you dont't look or act like they want you to, doesn't mean they can force you to change.

What does honour-based violence (HBV) look like?

Crimes of ‘honour’ do not always include violence. 

Crimes committed in the name of ‘honour’ might include: 

  • domestic violence – when someone hurts or bullies their boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, husband, wife or family member
  • threats of violence
  • forced marriage
  • being held against your will or taken somewhere you don’t want to go (this could include out of the country)
  • assault – when someone physically hurts you or threatens to physically hurt you
  • sexual abuse – making you do sexual things you don’t want to including sex crimes such as sexual assault and rape 
  • psychological abuse – such as being made to feel guilty, embarrassed or ashamed.

What can I do?

HBV can make you feel worried, sad or angry, and it may feel like you’re trying to deal with this all on your own. However, lots of children and young people find that if they talk to someone it can help. Some things you can do:

  • Tell an adult you trust – this could include a teacher, a family member, your youth worker, social worker or support worker. Think about talking to someone who is outside of the situation, who can advise you independently. It can be difficult to know how to have this conversation – we have some tips on asking for help.
  • Any form of violence and force is a crime, so think about reporting it to the police. If you're at immediate risk of getting hurt, call 999. 
  • With a safe adult, you could develop a safety plan that would help you choose how best to keep yourself safe.
  • Talk to your friends. A good friend will listen to you and may help you speak to an adult. 

If you are worried about a friend, we have some tips on how you can start the conversation and get them the right help.

Your questions answered about HBV

I’m a boy, can HBV affect me as well?

Although HBV is more commonly experienced by girls, it can happen to boys too. It often happens for the same reasons as girls. Boys may find it more difficult to talk about this, but it is just as serious and you should seek help.

If I report HBV, will it make it worse?

HBV isn’t right and isn’t legal. Victims are often too scared, shocked or worried about upsetting their family or community to speak out. For your own personal safety and that of the wider community, you should think seriously about reporting any incidents to police, to prevent further crimes against you or others.

Have I brought shame on my family?

HBV is driven by a mistaken desire to protect the cultural or traditional beliefs of a family or community. No religion says that HBV is okay. It is never okay for somebody to upset, abuse, threaten or hurt you.

Who can help me?

You & Co – you can talk to one of our support workers on a one-to-one basis, and we can offer you help and support whether you decide to report a crime to police or not. We can give you advice on how crime can affect you and how to cope with it, what to do and what to expect if you decide to report a crime to police, and how to move on from being a victim. You can find out about support available near you on this website.

Southhall Black Sisters – this organisation highlights and challenges violence against black (Asian and African-Caribbean) women. They offer a range of services. 

International and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisations – a charity providing advice and support in Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish, Dari and Farsi to women, girls and couples living in Britain, in particular helping women facing domestic violence, forced marriage and honour-based violence. 

The Albert Kennedy Trust – The AKT’s mission is to ensure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people are able to live in accepting, supportive and caring homes. It provides a range of services to people who would otherwise be homeless or living in a hostile environment.  

Karma Nirvana – this organisation provides support and advice on protecting yourself if you are experiencing forced marriage or honour-based violence. Call 0800 599 9247 

ChildLine – they offer 24-hour support for young people on a range of issues. Call 0800 1111

The Mix – this website provides information and support for 16-25 year olds on a whole range of issues, including rape and sexual assault as well as safe sexual relationships. Get confidential help by telephone, email, text or webchat, for young people under 25; call 0808 808 4994.

Asking for help

Are you thinking about reporting?