“I’ll never forget what it felt like to be the victim of domestic violence. The most memorable feeling is the shame, and thinking that I was being a ‘drama queen’.
I have spoken to many women who have been in similar circumstances and it seems this is a common thread in how we were all made to feel – an incredibly powerful silencer. There is so much focus on the act of violence, but the abuse starts long before the first physical injury is endured. By the time it does happen, the weeks, months and sometimes years of emotional and psychological torment have already resulted in you becoming but a shadow of the person you once were.
I left my ex-partner in the middle of the night with a baby and a bag of clothes. I had no money and no idea where I was going. I was isolated and terrified. What I did know, however, was that my son was not going to grow up thinking that the behaviour he’d witnessed was normal.
It took a long time after that event before I talked to anyone about what I had endured. To this day, I still find it hard. And to be perfectly honest, I still feel a level of shame. I challenge myself to push past this though in the hope that it will enable others to talk.
After leaving my partner, I quietly lived in fear of my life. I won’t go in to detail but the years that followed were absolutely harrowing. If ‘Ice’ had have been around during this time and he had access to it, I shudder to think what would have happened. Other than a couple of close friends, I never talked about my fears or the constant threats I received. Once again, I didn’t want to be seen as a ‘drama queen’. I clearly remember watching the news on the night Luke Batty was killed. The situation Rosie and Luke were in was frighteningly similar. My brother turned to me and said, ‘That could have been you’. A chill ran down my spine.
As I watch the news – week after week reports of women dying at the hands of ‘domestic violence’ – I am reminded of how close I came, and what little lies between those of us that make it, and those that don’t.
I would like to clarify, however, that these women are not dying from ‘domestic violence’. They are dying from brutal, cold blooded, revengeful, spiteful acts of murder. I was one of the many women who was ordered by the courts to do the fortnightly handover of children at the local McDonald’s, as it was seen as a safe, public place. Last weeks murder of 24-year-old Tara Brown by her partner, and two other cases reported in the media, proved the ludicrousness of such a suggestion. Tara sought help from Police the week prior to her death, but was turned away – this is the length of protection that was made available by the law.
Since 9/11, we have lost over 6000 women in Australia to so-called ‘domestic violence’. That is currently two every week. We have lost no Australian citizen to terrorism and yet the Government’s distribution of funds would suggest otherwise. Maybe we should call domestic violence ‘domestic terrorism’ and we may actually get somewhere. There is clearly so much work to be done in this area but without the funds for things such as grass roots education in schools and emergency housing the situation will only worsen.
We are a country in crisis with the victims being mothers, sisters, aunties and daughters.
I survived but there are only a couple of split second decisions in thinking and acting between me and those who have been killed. I know my ex wanted to kill me and know the lengths to which he thought about this, as I was reminded often. I don’t know why I’m still here, but I’m going to take this fortunate opportunity to fight on behalf of those who were not so lucky.
This issue needs to be heard and taken seriously. People in these situations should speak out and get out early, and those who are confided in need to take these issues seriously. We need to be educated, and to address it now, as we are now at risk of raising a generation of young people who perceive this behaviour as ‘normal’. This is terrifying. We need Government funding, a voice and we need action.
Do you need to speak with someone? Support is available from DV Connect via 1800 811 811 or the website. Alternatively, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit the White Ribbon website and if you’re in danger, call 000.