A victim of family violence says for 17 years, no one “just listened”.
The Junee resident revealed the nightmare she endured after she says Australia’s legal system abandoned her in Canada.
Following decades of abuse, pain and trauma, the 54-year-old mother-of-three said she wanted other women and children to have the support and assistance they deserved – the support she was denied.
The heartbroken mother’s fight for change follows another’s harrowing tale of inter-generational abuse, revealed by The Daily Advertiser last week.
The 54-year-old, who asked to be referred to by her pseudonym, Merinda, said she too wished to share her story of survival, with the hope community leaders would take heed.
Merinda said when she moved to the big smoke for work, she never imagined her dream partner would become the lead antagonist in her life.
The young woman followed her former spouse to his home country, Canada, believing the pair would return to Australia in 10 years.
However, what followed was 22-years of physical and emotional abuse, financial and social control, isolation and intimidation.
“One day he said to me: ‘I have the gun hidden in one spot and the ammunition in another. I know where they are. You don’t’,” Merinda said.
“It feels awful at the time but for me, I kept thinking if I worked hard enough I could get the man I married back.”
Not wanting her three daughters to think a life of abuse was acceptable, Merinda left and stayed in Canada to fight for custody, before she returned to her home country.
She said despite pleas for assistance, the Australian government provided no support and left her to shoulder more than $100,000 for legal fees and support services.
“There’s financial and legal assistance available for people arrested or assaulted abroad,” Merinda said.
“But there’s an artificial boundary for vulnerable women and children on their own in another country.”
Despite multiple compelling and official reports backing Merinda’s claims of abuse at the hand of her former spouse, she said her bid for custody was denied.
After a 22-year struggle in Canada, Merinda returned home alone, “poor” and suffering from trauma-induced PTSD.
Since her homecoming, Merinda has made it her mission to prevent other innocent and vulnerable women and children from experiencing the “family, judicial and systemic abuse” that plagued her for more than two decades.
In an effort to support others like her, Merinda welcomed victims of family violence to contact her via her Domestic Violence Despair Facebook page.