"The news of the decision combined with how I was feeling after everything I’d already been through made me sick."

My name is Hazelle, I'm 27, and I'm gay. In my home country that's illegal. I was imprisoned and tortured just because of my sexuality. I left and fled the country for my life.

I arrived in the UK hoping to be safe and to be free to be myself.

But first, I had to make my claim at the Home Office.

I was half an hour early. It was in the middle of winter and it was freezing, but the security guard said I couldn’t go in because my interview didn’t start until 9. I said, “Please I can’t go back outside again because it is cold.” I started crying. But he just shooed me outside.

I was standing there shaking because I was so cold. I was frozen, I went back at 9 and they allowed me to go back in but I couldn’t talk because I was so cold

There was a lot of police there, so I was already scared. It reminded me of what I was fleeing from.

When I got into the interview, I was so overwhelmed. I wasn’t prepared for what the interview would be like at all. I’d received no information whatsoever.

I knew that they were just going to ask me what happened, but I didn’t know that they were going to ask me about everything that happened in such detail.

During the interview, the caseworker didn’t give me time to explain myself, so I couldn’t answer properly.

I didn’t understand why she was asking me a question and asking the same question in a different way again and again. I was completely lost, I was confused. She took advantage of the way I was responding and that I was already feeling so confused.

It was so traumatising. The interrogation finished about six hours after it had started.

- Hazelle

At the end of the interview, she asked me, “Did you understand everything?” I told her I hadn’t. It was horrible.

It was exhausting, like coming out of a terrible headache. I didn’t expect that I would stay so long. I didn’t have any breakfast so I went the whole day without eating and drinking.

I waited and waited to receive a decision, but I received a refusal. They discounted everything that I had been through with those words in my refusal letter. They didn’t believe me.

The news of the decision combined with how I was feeling after everything I’d already been through made me sick. After the interview, I became more and more sick. I was hospitalised for a week and honestly, I haven’t recovered since.

I can’t talk about my future now because my situation is still not settled. I’m still fighting my case. I’m not able to think about the future, or to think about tomorrow.