Those who have escaped domestic violence and started a new life know how hard it can be; but for Lyn (surname withheld) the challenge was made even harder by the fact that she had to start afresh in a foreign country.
A Filipino national, Lyn married in Australia in 2010 and it wasn’t long before her husband’s abuse started.
But for Lyn it wasn’t just the physical abuse that took its toll, it was also her husband’s controlling nature that robbed her of her independence.
“He controlled me by depriving me financially. We were co-signatories on our bank accounts but whenever we had a fight he would stop me from accessing them and would tell me I had to find a new place to live,” Lyn said.
“He would also tell me I had to take my daughter out of her school just because she wasn’t his real daughter.”
In the lead-up to next month’s White Ribbon Day Redland City Council is aiming to raise greater awareness of domestic and family violence in the Redlands.
This includes partnering with the Redlands Domestic and Family Violence Action Group and Zonta clubs to host Diner En Rouge on 29 November; a dining experience that will help raise awareness of situations like those faced by Lyn.
Lyn said her husband also began isolating her from her friends, making her new home country a lonely place.
“It started when my ex-husband wanted me to give him my passwords for Facebook and Skype. At first I was hesitant to give my passwords but he told me if I truly loved him he should know everything,” Lyn said.
“After he got access he monitored everything. One by one he started to block my male friends who he was jealous of and felt threatened by, so I could not chat with them anymore.”
While at first Lyn didn’t recognise her situation as a form of domestic violence, it eventually eroded her confidence to the point where something had to change.
“What made me say enough is enough is when I saw myself in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself anymore. My self esteem was gone,” Lyn admits.
After leaving her husband Lyn sought help from a number of community services including a women’s refuge in the Redlands; but even though she had left her husband, without permanent residency in Australia she still hadn’t fully escaped his reach.
“When I left him he went to the immigration department and told lies about me,” Lyn said.
“But I am proud to say that me and my daughter have just got our permanent visa last month.”
Now a permanent resident, Lyn and her teenage daughter, who is currently completing her final year of school, still live at the women’s refuge and hope to move into their own house next month.
But while her own situation had improved Lyn said more support is needed to help domestic violence victims.
“There’s a need for more support services like the women’s refuge so the victims can feel safe,” she said.
“Also the community needs to unite and work hand in hand for a common cause. A non-judgmental outlook is very important. Every member of the community should be aware that domestic violence is not on.
“I hope that my experience will be an inspiration to other women who are experiencing domestic violence. It just takes that one single step. That step takes a lot of courage but once you’ve done it the world will be opened.”
Redland City Mayor Karen Williams has been lobbying for extra domestic and family violence services in the Redlands for years and said unfortunately stories such as Lyn’s were all too common.
“Most people think domestic violence is just physical abuse, but it can also include emotional abuse that robs people of their confidence and independence,” she said.
“The Redlands is not immune to this issue and that’s why Council is partnering with the Redlands Domestic and Family Violence Action Group and Zonta clubs to host Diner En Rouge, a dining experience that will help raise awareness of domestic and family violence in the Redlands.
“As a community we need to say enough is enough and this event is a chance for residents and businesses to come together to help put this issue on the agenda in the Redlands and beyond.”