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Sophie's Story

By WAGEC

Published on July 1, 2021

I’m not originally from Australia and actually met my ex-partner in the country where I am from. He was an Australian citizen, and we were together for a while before moving to another country and then finally Australia, where I had planned to visit before making my decision to live here.

For the first months he was so nice and caring, sometimes too caring but because of my inexperience I never suspected anything was wrong. Soon after arriving to Australia, the COVID-19 global pandemic started, and I couldn't get back to my country. This is when my partner’s behaviour started to change and he became more and more controlling. He would say that I'm nobody in this country and that nobody will listen to me because I'm not an Australian citizen. And I believed it.

It was then that he began also isolating me socially to the point that I couldn’t even talk to my family members on the phone without him trying to take my phone from me to check who I was talking to. I began feeling scared and trapped and couldn’t see any possible solution to my situation. I was not able to get back home and I was not able to support myself financially in this country because of my visa conditions.

At one point he kicked me out of the house because he said, “I disobeyed him.” He told me I had to think about our relationship and adjust myself to what he wants, otherwise I'll die in the streets without his support. Once, after one heated phone conversation, I felt so bad physically that I had to go to police to ask them for advice on what should I do. I was surprised that they listened to me and offered me help. I thought they wouldn't do it because my partner convinced me that I have no rights in here.

I was on the verge of homelessness in foreign county during lockdown. I was so scared and beginning to lose hope because I didn't have any income at that time. Police referred me to WAGEC. At first, I was surprised that there were people and organizations that would listen to me and believe me. I was so brainwashed by my partner that I was convinced everything was my fault. We had been together for so long and in an environment where everything was always my fault, I was always “guilty” and the person that was “not right.”  I had lost my ability to see clearly. I had forgotten what is normal and what is not.

I started fearing other people I was scared to share my story because I was not sure about myself anymore. But the nice ladies from WAGEC gave me emotional support so I could open my mouth not being scared to share what was happening in my relationship.

WAGEC also supported me with living arrangements. Although I ended up finding some people from my country that gave me the place to stay, there was a place for me ready in a women’s refuge thanks to WAGEC. I knew that I wouldn’t be homeless and that there’s a safe place for me to stay. WAGEC also supported me financially with an Opal card, food and toiletries. They took care of me and I was very happy that there's somebody out there that I can talk to and that were sympathetic. They let me be myself.

It was very hard for me to be stuck in another country during pandemic absolutely alone and far away from my family. But WAGEC gave me support of a family that I didn't have at that time. Their support gave me the strength to go through the process of separation from an abusive partner. Without this support, I probably would never have had the courage to leave a controlling relationship.

More than that, WAGEC provided me with documents that finally helped me to solve the problem with my visa. Now I'm a Permanent Resident of Australia and I'm not scared anymore. I found a job and live separately from my abusive partner. The nightmare is over and the new chapter of my life started. I'm very grateful for everything WAGEC did for me. It's so great that there's help for women in situations like mine. I would like to say to women struggling in a relationship- there's help out there, leave your fears and get back the power over your life that was taken from you.