25 ‘Friends in Melbourne and my community were not supportive of my decision to leave my husband and in fact they actively discouraged me from taking my complaint further. I felt pressured to stay with my husband and I was also discouraged from seeking assistance from family violence services. I was told that those services are for ‘white people’ and this type of issue should be resolved within the family and within the community.’ Two of the women who disclosed to family members reported that they were not supportive; one woman was told that it was her choice to marry and her choice to emigrate and now she was on her own. One woman whose family overseas encouraged her to contact Victoria Police also disclosed the family violence to her employer. She said that he was extremely supportive and encouraged her to be pro-active in seeking assistance. It was this support as well as her employer’s willingness to allow her to take leave from work that encouraged her to finally get in contact with the police and also take steps to obtain an Intervention Order. The women who made disclosures to religious leaders reported mixed reactions, one reported that she received an enormous amount of support and simply having people who were willing to listen, believe and understand her was enormously helpful. The other woman was very unhappy with the reaction to her disclosure. She felt that the religious leader was very much on her husband’s side, that he was mainly concerned with preserving their relationship and discouraged her from seeking separation/divorce. The women were also asked whether there was a particular event or incident that led to their decision to disclose family violence. Most women said that there was not one particular incident that was a catalyst for disclosing family violence or taking action it was more likely that there would be a gradual build up over time. Many women described simply reaching a point where they felt confident enough to take action or they had just reached the limit of what they could endure. ‘Eventually I had just had enough because I realised that I have human rights and the violence was affecting my health and I just couldn’t stand it anymore’ Many of the women interviewed had lived with family violence for years before they felt able to disclose what they were experiencing or seek assistance; some of the women were in their 50s or even 60s with adult children. Barriers to Accessing Assistance The women were asked to discuss whether there were any fears or concerns that prevented them from disclosing family violence or seeking assistance. They were also asked to discuss any difficulties they encountered in accessing support services. Some of the women had disclosed family violence to an external agency and had sought assistance from police, the courts and other organisations whilst other women had only ever disclosed family violence to close family or friends or the Arabic speaking women’s group and had not sought formal assistance from external agencies.