Growing up in West Africa, Naomi was only eight years old when civil war broke out forcing Naomi and her family into a life of refugee camps where she grew from a child to a woman.
Despite the hardships, Naomi fell in love with a man living in the refugee camp. She had dreamed of a future away from her past and at the age of 30, Naomi came to Australia to marry and start a new life.
Soon after, Naomi’s husband began to control her life. He decided who she should meet, where she would go and if she could work. When they had their first child, he condemned her for not giving him a son. When she gave him a son, he claimed it was not his. She did not see it at the time, but she was being controlled through verbal, emotional and social abuse.
For years, Naomi was too ashamed to ask for help. She would spend her days pushing the pram walking the streets. At night, when the threats and the yelling became too much, she would hide behind their apartment building, holding her baby in her arms. Alone – together in the dark.
It took genuine courage for Naomi to finally leave. She was alone in a country far from home, yet she knew that she was not free.
“I remembered an important lesson from my childhood. Something my parents taught me. When home is not safe. You escape. You find refuge,” Naomi said.
“Just like my parents did so many years before, I picked up my children and I ran away.”
After a short stay in a women’s refuge, Naomi and her two young children moved into BaptistCare Domestic Violence Accommodation Services. She has now finished an Aged Care course at TAFE, learned to drive and bought a car with a no interest NILS loan. When applying for Australian Citizenship, her DVAS case worker helped with the process.
“I am now a real Australian! My children and I are safe and we are building a future together,” Naomi shared.
See Naomi’s story in film, which shares a powerful testimony of her resilience and strength.