Mafalda spoke in Parliament on the 18th of March 2019, at the LAWRS and Southall Black Sisters event #ProtectionForAll hosted by MP Jess Phillips. This is Mafalda’s speech.
Take action: Support Mafalda and other migrant survivors to access support and protection in the Domestic Abuse Bill by taking 2 minutes to email the Pre-legislative Committee
Good afternoon everyone, especially survivors in the room present today.
My name is Mafalda, a migrant survivor and was supported by LAWRS for years,
I was undocumented for 5 years, where I was dragged day by day by complex immigration policies which saw me as less than human.
I was unjustly refused residence twice when my husband with EU citizenship was exercising EU treaty rights. This made me feel hopeless, disempowered, frustrated, angry. When I looked at myself in the mirror I couldn’t even recognise myself.
In this context of uncertainty, I was not vulnerable but I was made vulnerable.
It was in this period where I was abused, not having legal status affected how I was treated, even when being pregnant I was a victim of harassment.
I knew at the time this wasn’t right and I did know my rights, but what was I going to do when I had irregular status? I used to think to myself if I report my perpetrator would the police listen to me or would they asked me about my immigration status? … that would be the end for me.
I did not report to the police because I feared being deported with my children. I could barely tolerate the abuse, but couldn’t dare going to the police.
And as time went passed I started to believe that, little by little, I was becoming invisible in this country.
When you are migrant woman living in the ‘hostile environment’ the racial and anti-migrant discrimination is always present, you are a minority within a minority.
Those 5 years are my past but has formed who I am today.
I am now an advisor, were I have supported hundreds of migrant women in situations of exploitation and abuse.
We need a Domestic Abuse Bill that protects victims
A Bill that allows us to report to the police or any other service so we stop suffering in silence.
Now more than ever, we need this reassurance.