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22 March 2022
Becoming part of the Salvos ‘family’ has empowered Yas to build a new life after years of family violence
I was born in the Middle East, where I met my now ex-husband, Arash*. My father wasn’t happy about our relationship, but in the end, he allowed our marriage.
The violence began early. It was mainly verbal – bullying and putting me down. It got physical when he was very angry. After each occasion, Arash would apologise, buy me something, and say he wanted to keep the marriage – but it kept happening. He even beat me badly when I was heavily pregnant. The baby survived.
He would flirt with other women, and when I found out he’d had affairs, he apologised and said it wouldn’t happen again. But it did.
Once, after I discovered an affair, he was extremely physical in his abuse. I called the police, but they only told me that women don’t have rights in this country and not to get divorced. My father wouldn’t take me back either but encouraged me to stay with Arash because of our children.
But I wanted support to stop the violence, separate, and divorce.
Our second child was born a few years later, with physical challenges. Arash blamed me, made fun of me, and gave me no support. In my birth country, people look down on you if you have such challenges. I didn’t want my child growing up like this.
The abuse and affairs continued for more than 10 years. I finally convinced Arash to come to Australia to give our kids a better future.
We arrived in Australia in 2021 with our two children.
The physical violence stopped for a while as Arash was afraid of getting arrested. But the psychological abuse continued.
Arash returned to the Middle East a few months later, telling me he needed to think about his future. He left us a small amount of money, saying there would be no more. He called each night, telling me he wanted a divorce.
I didn’t get help because I didn’t know the Salvos or other support existed. I rented a place and enrolled the kids in school.
Arash returned. He said he was taking me back home, accused me of having relationships with other men, and constantly checked my phone.
One day he took me to a room and hit me badly. My older child tried to save me and pulled Arash into the backyard.
I grabbed the phone and called the police. They were there within minutes. Arash was arrested and placed into custody. I returned to the house. Once Arash was out on bail, I called the agency who had offered to help me relocate, and they referred me to a Salvation Army refuge.
I left with only a small suitcase and no money. My younger child is with me and, for now, my older child has returned to his birth country.
The Salvos have supported me financially, with accommodation, and getting my younger child settled into school. They are also assisting me with psychological, emotional, and spiritual support, and are organising counselling and other programs.
The Salvos are my main support here, and I am so grateful. They help me every time I have a problem. We are a family and support each other. Even though I live in a country away from my family, with a different language and culture, I live in peace. It’s so valuable.
I see hope, a new beginning. I want to study, get a job, and start again. Money is important, but it has brought me pain and torture. What matters is having a peaceful life, and a future for my children.
To other women, I would say, as much as keeping family together is important, so are you as a person, and feeling happy in life. The more you stay in a violent relationship, the more you lose your confidence and energy, which doesn’t help you or your children.
You must value and respect yourself. We women are strong, and we can let go of violent relationships and rebuild our lives.
*Name has been changed
Family violence occurs occurs in all cultures and communities, and across all demographics including age, gender, and socio-economic status.