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Mary's story

Mary's story

Mary's story

When I was first married my husband signed a lot more, but that was a long time ago and he says he can’t remember now, he has forgotten how to use sign language… If I fall from my wheelchair he doesn’t tell my carers or take me to the doctor or hospital…


My life at the moment…

Life is difficult at the moment, sort of strange; I’m bored, it’s boring. There is nothing to do at home. I watch a lot of TV, DVDs, CDs. I listen to music. I don’t have a lot of money or time to do things and my son is now at high school. I help him deliver papers.

Do I feel safe at home? No. Sometimes I feel safe; other times I don’t, it depends. I have no man in my house – oh that’s right I have a husband. I would like to forget about him sometimes. He is always on the computer, playing cards, watching TV. He spends a lot of money on computers and DVDs.

I met my husband a long time ago, 16 years ago. He drove for the accommodation service that I lived in. It was an easy decision to get married – he loved me so he married me. Not everyone was happy about the marriage. The family said ‘No you can’t get married.’ My father was ok with it. Then mum said ‘Ok if you want to get married’, but my two sisters didn’t want me to get married. They didn’t agree with it. I think they were worried about me.

My husband was married before we met, a long time ago. I don’t know what happened to his first wife, I don’t know where she went, I don’t know anything about her.

When I first had my son it was a little bit difficult. When he was about one year old he was taken. The police came and took him and took care of him, he had to go with them. Someone rang the police and told them they thought a long time ago there was rape in the family and then my son was taken from us. An allegation of rape was made against my husband years earlier by another woman, who lived at the accommodation service I was living in. It was not true – she was jealous of his and my relationship. Also a long time ago when our son was one there was an accident and he broke his leg. He went behind me and my wheelchair run over his leg. He screamed and cried, it hurt. My sister then cared for our son. He went to live with her. It was a very difficult time. My husband was upset and angry at my sister for taking the baby. We lived in Melbourne but my sister lived on the coast. It was very hard to drive from Melbourne return, to see him regularly. We decided to move to be closer to our son. We had to go to court to get back custody of our son, that was hard. When he was about twelve years old he came home to live with us.

My husband looks after me. I love my husband, sometimes he helps me and sometimes we fight. He takes all the money, he controls the money. Our son sometimes needs something for school and my husband has taken the money. I worry about him being in control of the money. He doesn’t listen to me when I say I need something. I pay all the bills and rent from my money and he keeps his money for himself. He doesn’t share his money with me. We fight over our son sometimes. Our son is getting older and wants more things and my husband and I fight over that. My son and I deliver the local newspaper so he can have his own money.

My husband helps me get dressed, helps with my bra, makes a cup of tea, helps with feeding, does the cooking. He makes me wait and I hate waiting. Sometimes when he takes our son to school he will make me wait until he gets back before he will help me get ready for the day. He talks to our son about me behind my back.

If I fall from my chair my husband doesn’t tell my carers, he makes me deal with it. He doesn’t take me to the doctor or the hospital. I may be hurt but he doesn’t get me checked. My feet get sore, my back hurts, my knee gets sore, and it gets bad. I yell to go to the doctor, I yell when I’m hurt but still my husband does not take me to the doctor. My husband only ever takes me to the doctor to get contraception.

Sometimes there will be a fight – a bad fight – and my husband will hit me or push me and grab me. When I am getting in the car he will push me and I have a bad leg and it hurts. He will only help me a little bit to get in the car, I have to do the rest.

My husband can only sign a little bit – he doesn’t bother now, he is always yelling now, he has finished signing. My son learnt to sign but doesn’t sign much now either. I think my son thinks like his father, he thinks dad only signs a little bit I only need to know a little bit. When I was first married my husband signed a lot more but that was a long time ago and he says he can’t remember now, he has forgotten.

We have had TTY at home for 10 years but it has never been hooked up, it’s not working. I’m bad because I’m too lazy to learn to use the computer and email.

I don’t know what would help with my relationship with my husband? Maybe me fighting back! He’s cruel sometimes, he won’t change – he will stay the same. I have thought of leaving him a few times, but he would worry about me and I worry that I couldn’t manage and anyway I don’t know where to go. I worry about my son if I left. What about him? I suppose he has school, he is older now he can look after himself and he has his music. His dad could look after him. He picks him up from school and drives him everywhere he wants to go. But where would I go?


Communicating with carers and others

I don’t know how I feel about being married now. When I’m unhappy with my life, when I feel sad, I cry and get mad with the carers and sometimes I fight with the carers. The carers don’t help me. They listen to my husband, not me, which makes me mad. They disregard me; they don’t care about what I have to say. Some of the carers have no time and they are bad and they can’t sign and that’s hard.

Some carers will talk for me; they will order things for me and get things for me that I don’t want, because they just do it. My husband talks for me as well. I am always in trouble with my husband for speaking up to my carers. I get into trouble from my husband if I buy something. I have to ask if I want something for myself. I am an adult, it is silly that I have to ask for everything. My carers are allowed to buy things for our son but I’m not allowed to, I’m the one who gets into trouble with my husband.

My husband will not listen to my concerns about my carers, he will not complain. When there is a communication break down, I tell my husband about how the carer doesn’t have the necessary communication skills and he doesn’t listen to that. He doesn’t complain when I say I need someone who can sign. He doesn’t want me to communicate. My husband wants to be the only one who can communicate with the carers. He wants to be able to tell the carers what to do, not me. My husband likes to control the money, and my husband likes to control the carers. It makes me feel sad and worry about what will happen in the future.

I have one carer who is a very good support to me. I trust her to talk to about my problems with my husband. This is a big help to me; having someone I can trust. I don’t have the strength or the power to speak out. My husband is too powerful, he is more powerful than me.

I’m at home by myself a lot with carers and without any money; I spend a lot of time window shopping with my carers. It is too hard to like my husband.

I have spoken to very few people about my husband’s treatment of me. With the help of my trusted carer, I have spoken with my case manager and a disability advocate, that’s all. I wanted my case manager to assist me with the issues I have with my carers. I want to have carers that can sign and communicate with me not rely on my husband. I wanted the disability advocate to help with my money problems. The advocate did organise for me to get money for a holiday but didn’t address the ongoing problem of my husband controlling all the money.

I would like assistance with contacting my family, writing to my sister. My husband doesn’t like me to have any contact with family.


What I would tell workers and others

I would like to tell workers to listen and spend some time learning how to communicate. I would like to tell them to have fun with the women they are supporting, have a good time, laugh, and good communication, communicate.

I would want to tell other women to look for a good husband. Make sure you are all right. Make sure you know and he knows how to treat each other. Make sure you have a good time together. Make sure you don’t forget what’s important. I would like to tell other women to have a good time.


  • If you are in danger call 000 or contact the police in your state or territory.
  • For confidential crisis support in Victoria, information and accommodation please call the safe steps 24/7 family violence response line on 1800 015 188. If it is unsafe to call, email
  • For confidential phone help and referral in Australia, please contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732, the National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line.
  • For free information, support, and referrals for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex, asexual and queer Victorians and their friends and family call Rainbow Door on 1800 729 367 or text 0480 017 246 or email
  • For support for men, call Men's Referral Service on 1300 766 491.