Stories of forced marriage
Explore stories from people who have experienced forced marriage.
These stories are inspired by the people that My Blue Sky and other organisations have helped. Their names and details have been changed to protect their privacy.
Each person’s experience is unique and these stories do not represent all the different ways a person might experience forced marriage. We hope that, by sharing these stories, you will feel less alone and be able to see how forced marriage can happen to people of all different backgrounds.
Trigger warning: these stories may sound very similar to something you may have gone through, and may be distressing to read. If you feel anxious or stressed at any time, please stop and seek out mental health support from one of these services.
Jasmine is a 16-year-old Australian citizen. She goes to visit her grandparents overseas, but doesn’t know that her parents had arranged for her to marry her cousin, who is almost 20 years older than her.
Jasmine tells her family that she doesn't want to get married, but they don’t listen. Her family hits her and yells at her. They take away her passport and plane tickets so that she can’t return to Australia.
How Jasmine got help: Jasmine is stuck in a country that doesn’t have an Australian Embassy, but she calls the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Australia. The Australian Government is able to get in touch with Jasmine’s close friends and trusted family members in Australia, who support her and are not involved in planning her marriage. Jasmine's friends and family help to bring her home to Australia, where she is able to get more support.
Ayla is a 17-year-old high school student in Australia.
Ayla's parents take her to visit her relatives. They tell her that she would only be able to go back to school if she agrees to marry a man they've chosen for her. Ayla has never met this man but marries him so that she can return to school.
Ayla’s parents told her that when she turns 18, she will have to sign migration papers for him so that he could get a permanent visa and live with her in Australia.
Back at school, Ayla’s teacher notices that she seems depressed and has taken a lot of time off school. Her teacher also sees that Ayla’s family seem to be very strict and controlling.
When the teacher asks Ayla if she is okay, Ayla tells her what happened. She says she feels like a slave, and never wanted to marry her husband. Ayla feels trapped and is scared of what might happen if she tries to leave her family.
How Ayla got help: Ayla asks her teacher for help, and her teacher contacts the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Although Ayla does not want her parents or ‘husband’ to be prosecuted, the AFP are able to help her access support, including safe accommodation, financial support, legal advice and counselling. This allows Ayla to work towards the future she wants for herself.
Sam is 20 years old and gay. He has been dating his boyfriend in secret for two years. They met in one of Sam’s very first classes at uni.
Sam lives at home with his parents, who are very strict and traditional. Sam cares a lot about his parents and is afraid that he will bring shame to them if anyone from their community finds out about his relationship.
One day, Sam accidentally leaves his phone on the table. His parents see the text messages between him and his boyfriend, and they are furious. They tell him he’s not a real man if he doesn’t marry a woman.
Soon after, his parents find a woman from their community who has agreed to marry him. Sam has never met her before and tries to tell his parents that he doesn’t want to marry her. His parents immediately get angry and tell him he is being selfish and bringing shame on his family. They threaten to disown him if he doesn’t agree to the marriage.
Sam’s parents begin monitoring his phone and forbid him from going out with his friends. Sam doesn’t know where to get help and is afraid that speaking up will get his parents in trouble or ruin their reputation.
How Sam got help: One day after class, Sam goes to see his uni’s Student Wellbeing team, who tell him about My Blue Sky. He calls My Blue Sky and is able to get connected with accommodation and financial support, so that he can move out.