Whittlesea CALD Communities Family Violence Research Report 2012 - Page 6

5 Perspectives from Survivors Findings from consultations conducted with female survivors of family violence, service providers and community and religious leaders confirmed existing anecdotal evidence and identified a number of factors that disproportionately or only affect CALD women. These factors acted as additional barriers for CALD women disclosing family violence, finding assistance, accessing support services, leaving and moving on from a family violence situation: Personal Barriers ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Immigration issues, uncertainty regarding visa status and fear of deportation; Language barriers caused by lack of or limited English language skills; Isolation from their own community and the broader Australian community and lack of support networks; Lack of familiarity with and knowledge of support services, including how and where to access them; Lack of knowledge about family violence, legal rights and legal processes in the Australian context; Cultural factors including beliefs and norms regarding marriage, separation, divorce and gender roles; Perceived and actual community pressures to stay in the relationship, shame and stigma associated with separation and divorce; Systemic Barriers ? ? ? Ineligibility and exclusion from certain support services and payments due to visa status; Language and communication barriers between women and service providers; Practical difficulties associated with leaving a family violence situation including lack of financial support, difficulties finding suitable employment and difficulties finding suitable housing. Many of the women interviewed had lived with family violence for many years before they felt able to disclose their experiences or seek help. The women shared similar fears when it came to disclosing family violence and encountered many of the same ‘barriers’ to accessing assistance and services. Women spoke of encountering a number of practical difficulties when leaving a family violence situation including finding affordable and appropriate housing, accessing financial support for themselves and their children, knowing where to get assistance, filling out forms, being able to transport themselves to appointments and finding childcare. These practical difficulties were compounded for women without permanent residency in Australia. A number of women identified these practical difficulties as key factors in decisions associated with leaving a family violence situation, resulting in a decision by some women to stay in a violent relationship ‘for the sake of their children’ and because they could see no alternative. Lack of information about family violence and legal rights and lack of familiarity with available support services was a particular barrier for women attempting to access assistance and this was acute for women who were newly arrived in Australia. Women described arriving in Australia with complete ignorance of their legal rights and no knowledge of how to ‘navigate the system.’ For women on partner visas this left them highly dependent on their spouse. One woman described herself as being ‘at the mercy’ of her husband who made her fearful of the police, government and other services that might have helped her. Most women reported that had they had access to