Maria speakers about the services provided to her by Women's Legal Service:
I arrived from my home country, the Philippines three years ago to join my husband who was also from my home country but who had lived in Australia for some time. When I arrived our baby daughter was just six months old and our son was five. Within a few months of arriving my husband started to physically beat our daughter and son to punish them for crying. He punched, kicked and strangled me. A few times he threatened to kill me, and he would call me names and insult me on a daily basis.
The first time I tried to leave, I did not know where to go. I had very little money and could not afford a hotel. My husband threatened to have me deported, and have our babies removed from my care if I left him, so I returned. The second time I left, I was so scared. I was convinced that my husband would hurt our babies just to teach me a lesson for leaving him. I got advice from the Women’s Legal Service. With their help, I was able to get a domestic violence order to keep him away from us so we could be safe.
My husband then applied for Parenting Orders, seeking to have the children removed from my care. He made up all kinds of bizarre unfounded allegations against me. As I had just started working, I was unable to get Legal Aid funding, but unable to afford a lawyer due to having no savings, and having to pay for all my living expenses and childcare on my own, without any assistance from my husband.
With the help of Women’s Legal Service, I was able to complete my Court documents and I was able to get an Interim Parenting Order, for him to have very limited supervised time with the children. This insulted and angered him very much which made me even more scared of what he might do. For two years the Family Court proceedings dragged on. Eventually, the court made an Order that the father does not see the children unless I agreed. Women’s Legal Service supported me through the court process, they explained the processes to me in a way that I understood. They helped organise security guards to escort me at times that I felt unsafe.''
*This fictional name has been given to protect the client’s identity.