"I left a house of abuse and humiliation, but I didn’t find peace. I don’t think the system is ready to support migrant women that survive violence."
"My name is Rebecca, I am from Brazil and came to Ireland almost 10 years ago as a language student. I had a good education in my country, but felt that a second language would help me to progress in my career. I met my future husband on a hiking trip.
"From the first date he was trying to organise every minute of our time together. I remember feeling uncomfortable with that but I also thought he was trying to be nice and I didn't want to be rude to reject his plans. He seemed to have a lot of the things I wanted in a partner. He seemed very caring and he respected my decision of not entering a sexual relationship before the wedding, which was very important for me. My time in Ireland ended and I went back to Brazil. He continued calling me often but he also tried to control my decisions about my job and daily activities. At that time, I saw that as him being caring. Following my family, friends and my pastor’s advice, I gave our long distance relationship a chance. After two years we got married in Brazil. None of his family or friends attended our wedding.
"After the wedding we moved to Ireland. Things instantly become bad. He criticised me constantly, he was saying I was getting fat. Things escalated fast and he started to push me, grabbing my arm, throwing me out of the house. I had to spend a few nights in hostels to escape his aggression. His family advised me to leave him, but I really wanted to make our marriage work out. I didn’t want to give up. I decided to seek help from a women's support organisation. I wanted a support to stand on my own feet but instead they advised me to just leave him, and to go back to my country. I felt lost and humiliated by that advice. The abuse continued to a point that the neighbours started calling the Garda. He also completely isolated me from the few friends I had here in Ireland. I was exhausted from abuse.
"I sought help by requesting a protective order. I had to use a Google translator to write the formal complaint. It was at this time that I found out that I was pregnant. The abuse continued and for my baby, I pulled my strength together and I left him.
"Currently, I am living with my toddler in and out of different shelters. I left a house of abuse and humiliation, but I didn’t find peace. I don’t think the system is ready to support migrant women that survive violence. The staff don’t seem to know what it is like to live with no family or anyone to be your support network, to have language barriers, to leave your life and career behind and have to start from scratch. They tell you to just go back to your country, as if the life that you once had back home is there on pause, waiting for you. They have no idea what it is like to be alone and to hear that maybe you should consider fostering your baby.
"It might sound weird, but somehow, when I was wearing my wedding ring, I felt protected from judgment. Now, I am exposed to judgment and comments such as: is your husband Brazilian? Oh, so you marry to get the passport? Irish women don’t get this kind of questions.I heard people commenting about my “half-cast” baby. I am terrified that my child will fall and get hurt, because they could say that I’m not being a good mother because migrant women get a harsher judgement. I felt really hurt to hear all those things from people that were supposed to be there to help."
According to the 2018 report ‘Migrant Women and Gender Based Violence in Ireland: Policy, Research & Practice’ migrant women experience additional barriers in accessing support. Language barrier, lack of appropriate training for service providers, and no access to information are just some of the examples. More investment is needed to provide a culturally appropriate and accessible services for migrant women.
Visit our Gender-based violence campaign to learn more about this issue and find available supports.
Please note that to protect her identity, we have used a different name and photograph.