Pilar at the Ultimo Community Centre Sydney, 2012.
Pilar at the Ultimo Community Centre Sydney, 2012.

I am from Zaragoza, I came to Australia many years ago. My sister visited here first, when she returned to Spain she encouraged us to go. I wanted to go because I was not getting on with my husband. I was keen to go with my two children, but not with him. However, the Australian government would not give me a visa to travel unless I was married, so we had to bring him. He said to me, “Once we arrive at the airport in Sydney I will be returning to Spain”. He never did, that was in 1977.

The worst and the most difficult part of my life was my marriage. I should never have married. However, we had three children together that I love. My eldest child, my daughter, came in 1972 with my sister and five years later the whole family moved to Australia. My life with my husband was really bad, but of course we couldn’t separate. We brought around $5 000 with us from Spain. In Australia, my husband worked as a mechanic and I worked a seamstress in a ladies underwear factory. My middle son also worked and contributed to the household income. Things were not good at home, so he ended up going to live with his friends. I went to school to learn English, but learned ‘Tarzan-Style’ (Pilar smiles).

We bought a unit in Marrickville, that I paid for because I earned more money than my husband. My husband was put off work and never went back. The main problem with my husband was that he used to hit me. I was a victim of domestic violence for many years and on top of that I had to work all the time. I told my husband I did not want anything to do with him in bed. He used to put this product on his hair and it smelt bad. I didn’t like it. One night my husband returned home late, after having been out with some friends. I had just made dinner and prepared our meal for the next day as I was working. I had burnt some toast and the house smelt of something burning. When he came home he was very cranky and I answered back with my temperament that I hated him! We began to fight and he threw the kitchen chair and hit my head. I was injured and bleeding a lot. In the middle of the fight he started questioning me about money that I had. I didn’t want to tell him anything and so I rang my daughter around midnight who told him a white lie.

The children had decided to come over to the house but my husband wouldn’t let them come up and he started to hurt me again. The children called the police but when they came he told them that I had fallen down the stairs. Finally, they charged him and took me to the hospital. How disgraceful. We had only been in Australia for 5 years, after that we had two years of court cases. My husband’s Ecuadorian friends posted his bail and had him released from jail. He hid in my garage, and I had to see him every day when I went to work. Finally the police put out a restraining order against him. However, it didn’t matter as he still made my life and that of my son’s impossible. I lost so much in those years, such as the activities in the Spanish Club. I never wanted to go anywhere in case I saw him.

In the end, he left me in peace. He got involved with a South American religious sect. I remember when we were together they used to come to the house on Sundays and spoke about things that I did not agree with. Later, they said that my husband had become locked in a room on the second floor of their house in Newtown. As he tried to get help, he fell out the window. I do not believe it, because he was a big man and a locked door would not have been a barrier to him. I believe someone pushed him out of the window. In any case, he died.

I sold the unit in Marrickville because I did not want to live there anymore, I was very lonely. When I wasn’t looking after my grand children, I would go out with friends from work. I met and fell in love with a German man. He was a very good man and we were together for a few very happy years. We married and spent Christmas in Spain. How cold it was! New Years Eve 2000 is the happiest memory of my life. We danced and drank champagne all night! But he died and then everything turned a bit complicated.

My daughter and her husband moved to Korea a few years ago. My middle son also lives a long way away. Today, I look after my son on my own. He is 50 years old and has Parkinson’s Disease. I am getting older and it has become increasingly difficult for me to care for him, I feel very lonely. I need someone to help me with my son but it appears that I do not fall into any category where the government can help him. The Spanish Community Care Association provides me with quite a bit of help and company. I like Australia, but I am fed up with the bureaucracy in relation to help. I could not return to Spain even if I wanted to, as I do not have enough money and I have my son. But I would love to return to Spain!
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