Breaking free from the shackles of a loveless marriage where her husband subjected her to brutal violence and coercive control, one woman managed to escape and rebuild a life with community support.
The woman aged in her 20s, who could not be identified for safety reasons, migrated to Australia to be with her husband but the marriage descended rapidly into slavery-like conditions.
She was referred to The Salvation Army's Trafficking and Slavery Safe House, living there for nine months until she could stand on her own feet with support from the Sisters of Charity Foundation.
"I had to let go of the pain and leave it in my past," she said.
"I had new motivation, I had to start to dream, I could focus on study and work and I wanted to have my own home.
"Nobody could control me and my life like before - I would control my home, my future and my life, my new life."
The charities have launched a campaign, Raise the Roof, urging the public to support their services during a housing crunch.
The four-day fundraising drive coincides with the UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
Modern slavery includes exploitative practices such as forced labour, forced marriage, human trafficking and debt bondage.
The latest edition of the Global Slavery Index released by human rights group Walk Free found there were more than 40,000 modern slaves in Australia.
The federal government committed funding to establish a national anti-slavery commissioner month to combat the scourge.
The foundation's chief executive Louise Burton said the Modern Slavery Transitional Housing Program was a unique model where rent and the bond was paid for up to 12 months and provided survivors money to set up their homes with furniture and whitegoods.
"This is ensuring that survivors are not disadvantaged in the rental crisis and that they are supported to find suitable housing," she told AAP.
Ms Burton said it added up to $15,000 to support one survivor through the program against a backdrop of rising living costs.
The group wants to raise more than $60,000, including money for ongoing casework.
"When people are traumatised, basic things like using public transport frightens them, so that's where the caseworker assists the person on the road to recovery, mostly how to live well and feel part of the community," Ms Burton said.
"The key to the recovery of survivors of modern slavery and integration into the community is providing them with a safe and secure home."
Australian Federal Police figures show there were more than 500 reports of forced marriage in the past decade.
Experts including Shih Joo Tan, a criminologist at Monash University, said the criminal justice framework may not be the most suitable for survivors.
She saw merits in Victoria's model, with the legal inclusion of forced marriage under the family violence framework, because the familial dynamics of forced marriage were better accounted for.
"It offers a more comprehensive framework because perpetrators are often family members," Dr Tan said.
Australian Associated Press
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