To her old friends in Japan, Mariko’s life seemed perfect. A successful Australian husband and three gorgeous kids. But behind closed doors, things were very different.
Jarrod made sure she knew he was in charge of everything she did. What she cooked, how she looked after the kids - even what she wore. In the bedroom, he’d always had a rule: whatever he wanted, he got. Even things that hurt and disgusted her.
She felt ashamed for staying but at the same time, scared to leave. She had no visa without him - he’d made sure of that - no job and no money in her own name. He told her she’d be sent back home penniless and in disgrace, and never see her kids again.
One day, Jarrod hurt her so much she ended up in the doctor’s surgery. That’s where they gave her the leaflet. It said ‘Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia’, and there was a web address for online counselling. She hid the leaflet in the lining of her handbag.
Mariko told Jarrod she had to go back to the doctors again the following week. But instead, she went to the library. She pulled out the leaflet and connected to the online counselling service.
The woman Mariko chatted to said her name was Maya. She really seemed to understand.
Jarrod rules were part of a pattern of power and control, and by obeying him, she was doing what she needed to survive and keep her children safe. No need to be ashamed of that. She seemed so understanding and Mariko told her what Jarrod was doing at night. Maya said it was a serious crime - it was still rape, even though they were married.
Maya understood that Mariko needed time to decide how to get out safely. She said that together, she and Mariko could work on the right plan for her.
She gave Mariko details of local services that could help her make sense of all the complicated legal papers, and get her some money to go somewhere safe with the kids.
Maya said Mariko could contact the service as often as she needed to.
Finally, it seemed like there might be a way to get out and start her life again.
She’d gather a support network around her, and she’d get away. It would be a long road, but for the first time, Mariko could see a better future ahead.
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