Seema’s Story

 

Seema is a 50-year-old mother of two who lives in the Lower Mainland.

 

Even though in many ways Seema’s is a success story, she still asked that we keep her name and face anonymous. That’s because the impacts of abuse on a family are lifelong, and she did not want to expose her children to any more trauma, even 15 years later.

 

Seema was married in at the age of 18 before moving from a cosmopolitan city in South Asia to a rural BC community, where she lived in a physically and psychologically abusive relationship for 14 years. She was completely isolated – there was no familiar community there and very few resources for abused women to access. As a New Canadian, she wasn’t even sure what her rights were – and her husband told her repeatedly that if she tried to leave him she’d get nothing. She wasn’t even allowed to use the TV without his permission.

 

When she did find the courage to leave the situation in 1994, Seema was granted legal aid immediately.

 

Seema’s legal aid representative helped her through the divorce, assisted her in gaining custody of her children, filed a civil restraining order and secured fair financial agreements so Seema would receive the ongoing support she needed. When her husband acted out of bounds in his visitations, her legal aid representative helped further secure legal action to protect her children. Today, Seema would likely only qualify for assistance with the restraining order.

 

As a result of her legal aid representation, Seema’s life and the lives of her children stabilized quickly. They were able to move and she found employment working for a non-profit organization where she helps reform laws and policies about family law, to help women all over BC.

 

Seema’s story shows us just how valuable a properly funded legal aid system is to healthy society. Without having received legal aid when she needed it, who knows where Seema would be today.

 

Real justice means fair access. We need legal aid.

 

Legal Aid in BC is provided by the LSS. Financial and issue eligibility requirements for legal aid in BC change and are adjusted by the LSS in response to the funds available to them from time to time. For information on current eligibility requirements visit www.lss.bc.ca