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For female migrant victims of family violence, their visa holder can often be their abuser

A new report has found migrant women on temporary visas who experience family violence are often left to suffer in silence because of fears they will be deported if they seek help.

They’re some of the most vulnerable members of the community: Women, newly-arrived in Australia, who find themselves the victims of family violence.

And a new report has found these women face a terrible dilemma, often having to rely on their partners to stay in the country, even if these visa sponsors are their abusers.

“This group of women is particularly vulnerable in relation to their migration status. They may have come on a student visa and if you experience family violence there is no specific support for someone who is on a student visa,” the report’s co-author, Monash University associate professor Marie Segrave said.

“For someone who is on a partner visa, there is limited support in place if you want to leave and try to access a visa to stay in Australia. There is a lot of uncertainty about what will happen. If you have children, whether these children are Australian citizens or not.”

According to Professor Segrave, the women’s migration status can often be used against them as a form of punishment and threat.

“Even though the system, in theory, allows women whose relationship breaks down to due to family violence to apply for the family violence provisions because sponsors are saying to women ‘I will have you deported’ and women aren’t sure about their migration status,” she said.

“They aren’t very sure about much control the permanent resident/perpetrator has and are concerned enough to think that they actually will be deported if they leave or if they call the police.”

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