Cynthia’s domestic violence story

August 22, 2022

As a single mother, a migrant and a victim of domestic violence, nothing about the last three years of Cynthia’s life has been easy. “A couple of months after I arrived in Australia from China, I started to experience significant domestic violence from my ex-husband. It was severe and involved emotional and financial abuse,” Cynthia says. After calling the Domestic Violence Hotline, Cynthia was referred to CatholicCare and says, “they have helped me in every stage of the journey ever since.” 

“The first priority when CatholicCare started working with me was to help me escape my husband,” Cynthia explains. “The other goals were to reduce my social isolation, to get parenting support, gain employment and resolve difficulties with family relationships. CatholicCare helped me holistically. All the workers around me were very proactive, and they considered things I couldn’t see. They helped me to explore a lot of opportunities instead of struggling by myself. It opened up many gates for me to choose a better path for me and my daughter.” 

For Cynthia, one of the greatest outcomes of CatholicCare’s work is her newfound financial independence. CatholicCare referred Cynthia to the Women Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service and she was able to get a divorce, an outcome which finally gave Cynthia freedom with her finances. Cynthia was also supported to access the Centrelink Additional Childcare Subsidy. “Finally, I was able to make decisions about my money and my future instead of struggling with my ex-husband,” Cynthia says. “I move forward, step-by-step, with CatholicCare’s help.” 

When Family Support Caseworker Emma took over Cynthia’s case in May, one of Cynthia’s short-term goals was to find employment in the community services sector. “Cynthia had just completed her Diploma of Community Services and was ready to find a job. One of my colleagues met with Cynthia to give her some resume tips,” Emma says. Cynthia is thrilled to report that she recently accepted a position as a Career Consultant for people living with a disability. “It’s good, because this is what I want!” Cynthia says. “They have offered me flexible working hours, and this means I can take some time to increase my social engagement after living in isolation for such a long time. I can also take care of my child who needs my attention. A flexible job is so important to me and with the help of CatholicCare I was able to find that job. It’s more than I ever expected.” 

Emma has also worked with Cynthia to build some social connections. “Just the other week, I arranged for Cynthia and her daughter to go on an outing with Sovereign Grace Care. They went to Watson’s Bay on the ferry and had fish and chips,” Emma says.  

Cynthia has received extensive support from CatholicCare in criminal and legal matters, and now has an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order against her ex-husband. Emma has supported Cynthia to access a low cost, trauma informed law firm, which has significantly reduced Cynthia’s financial stress. “I was bankrupt, and the lawyers were so expensive,” Cynthia says. “The only money I had was from Victim Services and it was looking like I needed to spend it all on legal bills. This was supposed to be money to support my life. I was so happy when Emma found a not-for-profit law firm that offered me services at a third of the cost. Without Emma’s help, I would have no money left.” 

Cynthia says that her engagement with CatholicCare has been a highlight of her life, “I am so grateful. I never thought things could be as good as this.” 

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