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Women living with disability can face extra hurdles breaking free of abusers, survivor warns

By Nick McAllister

Posted updated 

Nicole Lee was 24 when she met her now ex-husband, an amputee, through disability sports.

[Content warning: This story deals with sexual abuse and domestic violence.]

A couple of months after he had moved in with her, she became pregnant.

Six weeks after Ms Lee had given birth, her husband began to sexually, verbally and financially abuse her — and continued to do so for the 10 years they were married.

Ms Lee, a wheelchair user, said the situation was made worse by the fact her husband was her full-time carer.

“I was completely physically reliant on him for support,” she said.

“It also meant that he was listened to over me.

“So when I’d disclose [abuse] they would look to him, or he was always there so I couldn’t disclose.”

He also used her disability against her.

He told her “if she wasn’t so hard to live with [their relationship would be better]”, which compounded her mental health difficulties.

Ms Lee said the turning point for her was in 2014, when she attempted suicide.

“At the time, it was my sixteen-year-old son who found me and called the ambulance.”

Child protection services and police then became involved.

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