Whittlesea CALD Communities Family Violence Research Report 2012 - Page 30

29 shop near her workplace for six months while she was separating from her husband. She said this support was crucial given that she had no family in Australia. What the women were generally seeking from support services was firstly, a person they could trust, confide in and talk to and secondly a person who could provide practical assistance with referrals, paperwork, court support etc. Having external support often had not only an effect on the women themselves but also a corresponding effect on the perpetrator of the abuse. For example, a number of women stated that once the perpetrator knew that others knew about the abuse and that the women had outside support they believed that this led to a change in their behaviour: ‘…he knew there were other people aware of what was going on who cared for us and that changed the dynamic. He knew he couldn’t continue to abuse us without consequences.’ Many of the women interviewed had accessed support and assistance from the Arabic speaking settlement worker at WCC. The women usually became aware of the Arabic speaking settlement worker through word of mouth in the community and the Arabic speaking women’s group or through presentations and information sessions held at institutions where they attended English language classes. The women said that they felt particularly comfortable with someone who they knew they could trust, who spoke the language and who had a connection to their community. The majority of the women interviewed were involved with the Arabic speaking women’s group run by Whittlesea Community Connections. The women who were involved with this group stated that having the support of the group was extremely important to them and their involvement with the group helped build their confidence and self-esteem, allowed them to discuss their experiences with other women and build friendships, reduced their isolation and exposed them to different points of view and specific information about family violence through training and information sessions run by the group (for example, healthy relationships training provided by InTouch) ‘Participating in the Arabic speaking women’s group was a great support because I could speak to other migrant women with similar experiences and everyone supports each other and it improves your self-esteem. All the women listen to each other and help each other and it is also an outlet and a place to forget about the problems at home.’ For women whose activities outside of the home may have been controlled and monitored by their partners attending the Arabic speaking women’s group had the advantage of being seen as a more acceptable activity than others. A number of women gave examples of their attempts to attend counselling being blocked by their husbands or their husbands insisting on accompanying them to counselling sessions. Some of the women also emphasised the importance of having further opportunitie