I did a little dance for Nazanin today. A dance of joy that she is finally home, that she can hold her daughter once again, feel her husband's arms around her, sleep in her own bed. All those little things that we so often take for granted yet become the richest of treasures when taken away.
When the news flashed through that she had had her passport returned, it was an unexpected ray of sunshine in what has been a bleak season of news. But, even as we heard that Nazanin was at the airport, we held our breath, knowing that this could still be false hope. Nazanin’s husband Richard put it simply; until she was back on British soil, he could not be sure this was really happening. When he told their daughter Gabriella, she’d asked if she was joking. There had been so many moments of hope that were dashed.
As Nazanin sat in that airport, I’m sure my prayers joined with thousands of others, each of us praying that this time, justice would prevail and that freedom would come. But something else stirred in me. Nazanin has endured six years of captivity, psychological torture and a situation entirely out of her control yet somehow this moment seemed more treacherous than any yet, to be so near and yet so far.
It reminded me that for those women who have been subjected to abuse within their homes, leaving is always the moment of greatest risk. After years, sometimes decades, of veiled captivity, freedom is in the air. For years, the abuser has smiled and charmed the outside world whilst making up lies about their victim's mental health, parenting and more. But finally, change is coming, truth will out.
This moment can be overwhelming. Huge decisions have been made, plans put in place, whole support agencies sometimes have been rallied, but it is a heart in your mouth moment, a sick feeling in the bottom of your stomach moment. It’s a time of fear. Fear of being stopped, forcibly turned around or worse. It’s a rational fear - statistics tell us this is the moment at which women are most likely to be killed by their abuser.
Over the last six years, the government has moved mountains, negotiated and planned to get Nazanin and the others held captive with her, free. And so they should have, I am beyond delighted that she is finally home. But my mind can not help but turn to the hundreds of thousands of women and children who are still captive in this country, living with abusers. I want mountains to be moved for them too.
— Bekah Legg —
It’s what motivates everything we do at Restored, this desire to see men, women and children living in the freedom for which they were created. We’re dancing for Nazanin, for Richard and for Gabriella. But we dance every time we hear another story of release. As a team, we delight in hearing and sharing the stories of recovery and restoration that we hear through our survivors’ network as women who have been captive to fear begin to rediscover their identity, their voice and their Father in Heaven who loves them so.
And we pray for those women whose names we may never know, who sit at this moment in their equivalent of that airport waiting room, we pray for people who will move mountains for them, that they may know they are loved. We pray they may have a place of safety to run to, a place to call home, a place to find restoration.