Refugee Legal is Australia’s largest not-for-profit provider of free legal services in its specialist field of immigration and refugee law.

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The real stories behind the numbers

Grace

Grace* is a young African woman, in her early twenties. She grew up in a country marred by civil war. When still just a small child, many of her family were killed during the conflict. Grace survived and was sheltered and cared for by relatives.

From a young age Grace felt attracted to women, something she knew to be taboo in her community. She kept her feelings secret, fearful of the harm she would face if her community knew about her. She felt lonely and isolated.

While studying Grace met another young woman and, over time, they formed a relationship. In spite of the couple’s attempts to keep their relationship secret, the community was suspicious. Grace’s community turned on her. Grace and her partner faced verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis. Ultimately this abuse became more serious. Then, Grace was raped by a man from her community as an attempt to force her to suppress her sexuality. From that moment, she knew was under constant threat of sexual assault, torture and potentially murder.

With the assistance of a sympathetic friend, Grace was able to flee and made her way to Australia seeking protection. She came to Refugee Legal for advice and help to prepare the detailed documentation required for her visa application. She had one chance to get it right. We gave Grace the vital support she needed to explain her background, the horror of her past experiences and her real fears of being forced to return.

At the time of writing, Grace is waiting to hear if she can remain safely here in Australia to rebuild her life.