Opening doors: a Vietnamese family violence victim gets the help she needs

Opening doors: a Vietnamese family violence victim gets the help she needs

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A distressed Vietnamese woman had been trying for a week to get help after her former husband, prone to violence, refused to return their children from weekend leave.

One of our Legal Help phone line workers, Thuy Le, speaks Vietnamese and when an urgent phone call came in, was able to respond swiftly to get Linh* the help she needed.

The call was from inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence, with whom we have recently developed a strong partnership and streamlined referral pathways. Linh had gone there for assistance after several harrowing days of trying to navigate the law and understand her rights on her own.

Linh has three young children, two of school age and one four years of age. A few months earlier she had separated from her violent and abusive partner. Since that time the children had lived with Linh and spent time with their father each weekend from after school on Friday until late Sunday afternoon, with only a verbal agreement in place about how this would work.

‘Both during the marriage and since the separation, the children’s father made threats to her, often in front of the children. He had tailgated her car, been abusive, yelled and screamed at her, as well as intimidated her by suggesting her visa might be revoked,’ says Senior Family Lawyer Marika Ruzyla.

‘She had applied for an intervention order, but there were difficulties serving it, and in the meantime he came to the house and took off with the children. Linh managed to recover the older children when they went to school, however the four-year-old remained with his father as Linh was too scared to go to the home to get him herself.

‘When she tried to get help, she was turned away or told that it would cost her $5000 in legal fees to get her child back.

After Linh was assisted by inTouch to make contact with us, urgent arrangements were made for her to come into our office.

‘Thuy was there to interpret, which was a godsend, as Linh was really shaken and distressed. She had a letter from her former husband’s lawyers making demands, did not understand where she stood in the legal system, and of course was distraught about her youngest child’s well-being,’ says Marika.

‘I phoned the lawyer and advised that his client would face criminal offences if he did not return the child immediately. We then organised a written agreement about parenting, which sets out the condition under which the children’s father can see them.’

The children were returned safely at the police station. ‘Linh felt she had had nothing but closed doors and was beside herself with relief to finally get the help she needed,’ says Marika.

*Name has been changed to preserve confidentiality.

More information

Free information about the law and how we can help you:

or call Legal Help on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday, 8.45 am to 5.15 pm.

Read more about our collaboration with inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence.

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