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Visa and cultural barriers trapping migrant women in abusive relationships

Source: Getty Images/ Xia Yuan

Anti-domestic violence advocates are calling for criminalising coercive control and expanding special provisions of migration law to provide a pathway to permanent residency for family violence victims on temporary visas.

'Invisible abuse'

Investigative journalist Jess Hill spent four years researching and writing about Australia’s domestic violence crisis in her book See What You Made Me Do, now an upcoming SBS documentary series.

She says the elusive nature of coercive control often makes it invisible to others.

Key points:

  • A recent study found that over half of the domestic violence victims on temporary visas were threatened with deportation by their sponsors
  • Anti-family violence advocates are calling for expanding the special family violence provisions of the migration law to cover temporary visa holders
  • Advocates are also calling for criminalising coercive control in all jurisdictions within Australia

She explains that common signs of coercive control include: 

  • Financial control
  • Isolating the victim from family and friends
  • Making it difficult for them to meet others
  • Threats to harm themselves, the pets or the children
  • Constantly belittling or degrading a victim-survivor

SBS’ series on Domestic Violence 'See What You Made Me Do' premieres 8:30pm Wednesday 5 May. Watch on SBS or stream free on SBS On DemandThe three-part series continues weekly on 12 & 19 May, and repeated at 9.30pm Sundays on SBS VICELAND.

If you or another person is in danger, call 000

To talk to someone about family violence or sexual assault: or 1800 737 732

Findservicesineachstate and territory:

Lifeline 13 11 14 

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (24/7 counselling service)

Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491 (anonymous and confidential telephone counselling for men)

Q Life | 1800 184 527 Provides anonymous and free LGBTI peer support and referral

The National Disability Abuse & Neglect Hotline 1800 880 052 for reporting abuse/neglect of people with disability.

ELDERHelp | 1800 353 374 to know how you can get help, support and referrals. 


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