Summary of interview with client of the Muslim Women's Association on SBS Radio Arabic on 19 February 2014
Q: When did the violence in your relationship start?
A: It began from very early on in my marriage, from my honeymoon, but I was not aware or confident enough to save myself from the situation I was in, and protect myself. There is a view in society says just put up with it, be patient, and think that you must have played a part.
But I say to every woman who goes through this, turn your back to this horrid community perception, and strengthen yourself, and stand up for yourself, so that you can save yourself and your life and leave the bad situation you are living in. You do not deserve to be treated like this, you don't have to go through it, your children don’t have to see you going through this.
Q; Was there a reason for the abuse? You mentioned that this started early, from the honeymoon, were there any indications that this man was violent?
A: No, not at all. There were no indications in the beginning whatsoever. This sort of a person doesn't even have to have a justification, this is just the way this person is.
It's not even right to give a justification for violence, there is no justification for violence and abuse.
I am a peaceful person, and I like to live with the people around me in peace. My husband, the main person that I engage with in my life, we should be living in peace, and safety, in all religions, all laws, all nationalities, this is something expected. But this wasn't the case for me, and there was no reational reasoning behind the abuse.
Q: You mentioned the negative social view on Domestic Violence, does this affect the woman, even if she stood on her own two feet and said I'm not going to put up with this anymore, does this negative opinion continue even after the woman has sought help?
A: Yes, unfortunately there are still some parts of the community where the woman is blamed, its very hard for a woman to think of herself as separated or divorced, to cause trouble in her marriage. But I say to any woman going through Domestic Violence in her life, turn your back to these negative comments, and strengthen yourself, because these people will be of no benefit to you in your life.
Q: You married in Egypt, after a short time of getting to know each other, and then you came to Australia. What things did you actually experience? Was there restriction of freedom, physical abuse, emotional abuse?
A: When I first got married I had very little awareness of the reality of what I was doing. I was looking at this one dimensional, it was all new and shiny, and I didn't realise that glass shines and glistens but it also easily shatters. The abuse began, and I began to realise that this was his only language of communication. Really, there is no understanding through violence, but this was the language he would use.
Al types of abuse and violence, physical, emotional, financial, limiting my freedom, taking my mobile phone, isolating me from going places and talking to people, not talking to my family so I don't tell them about my situation. Hitting, serious physical abuse, where I could barely defend myself.
Then I had to think, I have kids, I didn't bring them into this world to see me go through this, I want them to be righteous, good people. I want to raise them well. How can I expect to do this if they see me unable to defend myself and stand up for myself?
I started by saying that you have no right to raise your hand at me, you have no right to raise your voice at me, I haven't done anything that warrants this. And this would take him by surprise. He didn't want me to know my rights, but I started to learn my rights. I am living in a country that does not allow this. My religion does not allow this. And when I knew this I had the courage to stand up and say no, I am not going to go on like this, I have my life, a life that I want to live in peace with my children. My children were witness to the violence, and I took this stance of standing up and saying no, that I'm not going to continue on like this, for my children, so they were no longer affected by this.
Q: Do you think there is enough support from the Australian government?
A: Well something that was delaying my step to stand up for myself, was the negative view I had of a refuge. That this place would be awfully crowded, untidy, not a place that I would want my kids to be in. But the reality is the complete opposite. The government needs to continue to support places like this refuge I am staying in, and al their initiatives. If it were not for the refuge, what would have happened to me? Where would I be? And what about my children?
The people that are here, from the moment they welcomed me in, they said, say goodbye to all your worries, they removed my burdens.
I did not take this final stance, of actually leaving, till I had exhausted all other means with my husband, to live a peaceful and safe life. If I had remained then my life would have been even worse.
Finally, I just want to express my deepest gratitude and thanks to the women here in the refuge and the Muslim Women's Association. They are the most amazing women, they made us feel that they are our family that we have so deeply missed, they relieved us of our isolation, these women who sacrifice from their own lives, so that they can provide us with all our rights, encourage us to stand on our own two feet, they have completely transformed our lives.
The complete interview can be found on the SBS Arabic Radio Website: http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/arabic/highlight/page/id/318766/t/Stories-of-women-who-said-STOP-to-violence
Please Note: The interview is in Arabic