Who is Sunny?
Sunny is who I am today. I have changed my name by deed poll to Sunny Angel. I changed my name to protect my family from any shame of speaking out. I am a mother to a daughter called Maya. I have been married 4 times before the of 30, which many judge me by. I don’t like the feeling of being owned by anyone. I am strong minded and I have changed my life. I belong to me. I am also a Reiki Grandmaster. I do shooting competitions. There is so much to a person than being judged by their past. The past does not define anyone, it is a journey and not a competition. I have also started the Maya and Mum’s Diaries which is doing well.
What is your day job?
I am full time mum and I also do home schooling for Maya as she was bullied. So I basically teach my daughter what the school were meant to do. Now I want to help everyone. I do a lot of talks to empower women and men.
Before your book journey what was you doing then?
It has taken me a lot to recover within myself. But then I was hit with a stroke in 2011 and I was in a wheelchair and I was half paralysed. A lot of people noticed it recently on Facebook when I put a video up recently. My face looks paralysed. Half of my body isn’t synced properly. I had to learn to walk and talk again. My daughter was only 3 years old at the time. Myself and my daughter had to communicate through sign language. I have a hole in my heart and a cyst on my brain. So I didn’t want anything to happen to me. But I also was thinking about my daughter. It has been a tough journey but I am stronger for it.
Why did you change your name?
I have changed my name so my family won’t be identified and my standing up and speaking my truth to help others won’t cause them any shame. I believe my family did the best they could for their community and keeping up appearances within the society, but they didn’t do what was best for me. By me speaking up I hope to help other families so they can love their children without pleasing others. #LoveStartsAtHome #AbuseIsNotLove
Aged 3, you was abused, can you tell me about that?
I blocked a lot out as a Child. I was vulnerable. I was abused by a ‘family friend’. I was also bullied at home and at school. I had no one to ‘tell’. The abuse escalated from taunting to physical then sexual at the age of 3 to 11. I remembered more of my child sexual abuse when I had my head injury last year, it unlocked my blocked past and helped me heal . I mean at a young age was told that women are meant to be married off and I was taught how to cook and clean from a young age. I remember the house so clearly and the person who did this was aged 11-12 years old at the time. I knew it was wrong he was touching in wrong places. I remember the house of abuse so clearly and the person who did this.
How did it feel for you not being believed by your family when you told them of the abuse aged 3 that went on for a period of time?
When I first mentioned it I was young and naive, I didn’t realise it was abuse. I knew it wasn’t right and that I didn’t want to go to ‘Uncle’s house’. I was seen as being ‘difficult’. It finally ended when my older brother saw the Abuser on top of me and he told Mum. It was still swept under the carpet as Asians tend to victim blame and let abusers walk free. They use guilt and fear to control rather than using love and compassion to offer support. At the time I couldn’t understand what was happening. The abuser warned me ‘no one will believe you’ and I felt he was right. I was rejected and punished while he walked free. I was labelled as “dirty” and I couldn’t understand it. They told me not to tell anyone or they can’t marry me off. My earliest trigger memories were at age 6 until the recent head injury which brought them back to the first incident age 3.
Now at 17 years old, you met an older male named Khan. Who raped, tortured and manipulated you for years which has left you emotionally and mentally scarred. Can you go in to detail in regards to what happened?
At 17 I was going to College and studying A-levels then started working in a paper warehouse where he was a parcel delivery guy. I was commuting on the train. Khan was stalking me for a year. That was his name. I had no idea until the last 3 months when it became intense and he stopped me in my tracks and assaulted me. He threatened to hurt my family if I didn’t comply with his demands. He groomed me and held me captive. He tortured and raped me and forced me to commit crime. He would try to drown me and cut me up. Some occasions he locked me up in the boot of his car and would drive around. He even marked my body parts up threatening to cut me up. He was very controlling and I was very vulnerable. He took all the money I had and made me take out bank loans too. He threatened to sell me on after he finished with me. He had me in constant fear. Back then I didn’t know what Grooming was until I heard about on the TV. One thing I will always remember is he had a rope around my body and was walking through a park at about 3 am he used to take me out like a dog. It was humiliating it wasn’t all the time. I remember he said to me this is what love is.
I read a really distressing article headlines “Girl influenced by older man” The word influenced was used and not groomed. I mean you were 17 years of age and he was 40 years of age. Tell more about that article.
I was convicted of 5 counts of’ obtaining services by deception’ at Guildford Crown Court. The crime was hiring a car, You had to be 21! I was only 19! Khan would go and collect the car with his passport and driving license as ID and drive the cars and I was forced to call up as a secretary/PA. I wasn’t even old enough to commit the crime yet I pleaded guilty on all 5 counts and I was convicted. Khan walked free. In this case all the abuse was noted yet nothing was done. I was hoping to get 5 year jail term to avoid a forced arranged marriage as my suicide had failed. The Judge gave me a fine and a 12 months conditional discharge. The credit card that was used initially was my big brother’s card. All was on insurance. Not a penny was taken from his account. I never took anyone’s money. My brother chose to pursue me rather than Khan. A lot has changed in 20 years in regards to the attitude towards ‘grooming’ thanks to Mr Nazir Afzal OBE. I was groomed to commit crimes not ‘influenced’ I had no choice.
I also read in your book you had 60 open wounds on your back due to the abuse. Is that what your butterfly tattoo represents?
Yes. My back was covered with cigarette burns and whip marks and cuts from 1997. 20 years on many of the scars still remain as they were so deep. My daughter noticed and asked what they were. Going swimming it was hard to cover. I decided to transform the past into something beautiful and show my daughter my strength. I have a combination of 3 Wings : The Butterfly wings represent new life, Dragonfly wings represent Hope and Angel Wings for all the times I’ve fallen and been carried.
You had a forced marriage by someone you felt may have had learning difficulties. Can you tell me more about that situation?
I had a forced marriage. It was arranged in 1998 just as the court case was happening. I didn’t realise he had learning difficulties or mental health issues. Had I known I would have been happy to be his carer or handled things differently. *IF ONLY* Asians were more honest and open about matters. I was tricked into believing he was happy to be married to me, yet he didn’t know me and I didn’t know him. Someone else would be calling me pretending to be him. His Mother forced him to rape me as she was desperate for a Grandson. The marriage ended after 5 months due to dowry abuse.
Have you felt suicidal in any point in your life?
Yes. I tried to commit suicide aged 8, 12 and at the homeless shelter when I was 19 and I was hospitalised. And 2004 age 25 when I was widowed, (Hubby Ray died by hanging). Since then I promised myself that as death has rejected me I will not let my life be wasted I will use my life experiences to help others. I no longer feel vulnerable. I am a happy person living life to the full. I am a single Mum making happy moments and new adventures every day.
Losing Ray was a huge loss to you. Can you tell me more about your relationship and how you lost him?
I met Ray in 2002. It was a fairy tale romance. We met in the Bar as I was working 2 jobs to pay for my divorce and gold case. We decided to follow our dreams and go round the world and do as many adventures as possible. We did bungee jumping, flying in helicopters, snorkelling, climbing mountains, sailing, it was an amazing 100 days which ended in marrying in Fiji. Mum and Dad came to Fiji and walked me down the aisle. It really was magical. I suddenly became ill again and had to have another breast tumour removed and couldn’t work to pay the bills and a £10k loan. Ray stopped working to look after me. The bills spiralled out of control. I had the operation and was being tested for Cancer. The pressure was getting to us. Ray turned his hand to drug dealing for a quick fix. I didn’t approve, so we kept arguing. He continued behind my back. I was out of work for over a year and had 2 operations. I miscarried 3 months before Ray was found hanged. Ray went into bad company. We argued the night before he died. I have my regrets. He had family but they didn’t help him. All the loans and credit cards I had maxed out. I went bankrupt for £80k the following year due to bills.
Why did you write a book?
I wrote the book with my friend Paul. My reasons were because I’m not alone in suffering. Many still suffer. I want them to know its ok to come forward and get help. I hope that others will see what happens to vulnerable people and if only one person comes forward to help you can change someone’s life.
I love the titles of the chapters of the book as they represent films. Did you decide on the titles yourself?
Thank you. Paul was brilliant at the titles. I see life as a film and the characters we meet have such an impact. Paul was an amazing help putting the book together. We worked together back in 2001.
Maya is home schooled due to bullying. Can you tell me more about that?
Maya has been bullied at school for 2 years. Sadly the teachers didn’t help and had made Maya more vulnerable. As her parent and guide I refused to sit back and allow this to happen. So I now empower her by giving home school education. I am so proud of her, she’s doing so well.
You have become stronger in yourself do you agree?
Yes! I had a fear of water due to my past. I was scared to even wash my face and put water there. I knew I had to overcome it as Maya loves swimming. Also even now I am confident enough to turn my back away from the door. Before I was so scared, I used to sit in a corner and face the door. I have had therapy such as self healing. I am stronger within in myself.
Who are your role models and inspiration?
My Hero is Mandy Sanghera. Mandy is also my amazing Mentor I feel so blessed to have her guide me. Then there is Nazir Afzal OBE who I contacted via Twitter. They have really helped me.
You also did Zee Companion show how was that?
That was an amazing experience to share my story and to raise awareness.
You also attended and spoke at an Honour Abuse WOW event in Bradford with Jas Sanghera CBE how was that?
I really enjoyed speaking at the event and Jas is a great person. I was invited to speak alongside other survivors representing Karma Nirvana. I am now a Karma Nirvana Survivor Ambassador.
You also won the She Inspires award what an achievement?
Yes. The She Inspires Award was at Houses Of Parliament London. For international Women’s Day. This was organised by Inspiring Indian Women. It was an honour to recieve the award for the special mum catergory with my daughter Maya wit many inspirational people.
What is next for Sunny?
Well book two is in the making. Also all I want to do is help others. Raise awareness. Make a difference. Thank you for all the kind support. Keep shining
I am available for talks and I can be contacted via http://www.sunny-angel.com
I met Sunny for the first time last year at an event. When I first met her she had such calm and beautiful nature about her. Sunny had her daughter with her Maya and you ca tell how much Sunny loves her and is a great mother. Myself and Sunny got chatting and we instantly became friends and she is such a beautiful soul. I would class Sunny as one of my dear friends who always tries to help others and empower others no matter how busy she is. Sunny’s strength i’m in awe off it isn’t easy speaking about such Taboo subjects and also carrying the trauma and scars with it. But this woman is such an amazing person. I really hope that you can show some love and support towards her.