Lee is a young woman who married an Australian citizen and was looking forward to moving to Australia and starting her married life. Her husband’s abusive behaviour began shortly after she arrived to Australia on a temporary partner visa. He was verbally and physically abusive and controlling towards Lee, especially after she became pregnant. Her husband controlled her food intake such that she experienced malnutrition and developed depression. Lee stayed in the relationship for as long as she did because in her culture, separated women are scorned and shunned. It was only after the police became involved that she realized that domestic violence was a crime taken seriously in Australia.
Lee approached IARC while she was still in the relationship with her husband, unsure and afraid of the impact leaving the relationship might have on her and her unborn child. We advised Lee on her options and referred her to other legal services for family law advice. Being a trauma-informed practice gave our solicitors the skills to approach Lee’s situation with sensitivity, and allowed her the space to tell her story over a number of appointments, therefore building trust between Lee and our service. Thanks to the advice we gave her, Lee found the courage to leave her abusive husband and apply for permanent residency on the basis of having a child of the relationship, a provision which permits partner visa applicants to continue being eligible for permanent residency if the relationship breaks down.