Age at interview: 30
Background: Mishi has a 5-year-old daughter and is divorced from her ex-husband. Mishi and her daughter live in a large city in Australia. Mishi is currently studying and is from Pakistan.
Mishi experienced family violence during her pregnancy and after the birth of her daughter from both her ex-husband and his parents. She felt depressed during her pregnancy and after the birth of her daughter, but was advised by her doctor in Pakistan to be strong and positive rather than take antidepressants.
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More about Mishi
Mishi grew up in Pakistan and married her ex-husband when she was in her early 20s. For the first two years of their marriage, the couple lived with her former parents-in-law. Unfortunately, they had wanted to arrange a marriage for their son with another woman and 'didn't accept' his 'love marriage' with Mishi. She said they 'put poison' in her ex-husband's mind, pressuring him to divorce her, and that after their marriage his behaviour towards her 'quite changed'.
Mishi became pregnant two months into her marriage. During her pregnancy her mother-in-law began physically abusing her, but Mishi's ex-husband 'didn't take any notice'. Mishi described feeling 'upset and depressed' during this time, but rather than take antidepressant medication she tried to follow her doctor's advice to 'be happy' and not think about what was happening.
After her daughter was born, Mishi said the abuse from her parents-in-law continued. When her daughter was almost one, her ex-husband learned their application to migrate to Australia had been successful. Mishi said she was 'so happy' and her husband told her things would be better once they reached Australia.
Her former parents-in-law were very upset at the news and didn't want their son to take Mishi and her daughter to Australia. Around this time her ex-husband also began physically abusing Mishi. This continued throughout their first two years in Australia, their daughter often witnessing the abuse.
Although Mishi's ex-husband began to threaten to end their marriage, she said she 'kept quiet' because she believed staying married was better for her daughter. However, following a visit from her ex-husband's parents, Mishi's husband threatened her with a knife and told her to 'leave forever' before finally telling her he wanted a divorce.
Mishi called the police then took her daughter to live with her sister for two months. She took out intervention orders against her ex-husband and his parents. She also underwent a court process to negotiate custody arrangements with her ex-husband, agreeing he could have their daughter every weekend.
Since leaving her husband, Mishi has found shared accommodation with friends, learned to drive, and is studying and looking for a job while her daughter attends kindergarten. Mishi said she appreciates the support she has received from the government, community organisations and friends, but struggles to live on government benefits and limited child support from her ex-husband. She said her experiences have made her feel 'tired' and 'old'.
Mishi advised other women experiencing family violence to leave their husbands. She now feels confident living without her ex-husband and said the belief that women are 'nothing without men' is wrong. Mishi feels parents have a responsibility to be 'strong' for their children. Although in her culture women are told to 'bear all the pains' of abusive relationships, Mishi now believes this attitude isn't good for either a woman's mental health or that of her child.