I fell in love with a man. A man that worked hard to woo me, who treated me respectfully. We had a loving, passionate, easy relationship. To begin with.
The six years and three boys we had together were a rollercoaster. He could be the most thoughtful partner and fun dad one minute, then something would change his mood and he would switch to someone who would say and do the cruellest things the next. The boys and I constantly walked on egg shells around him.
His foul moods meant family and friends soon stopped coming over to visit. Our house became a prison. We rarely left apart from to food shop.
I always put his violence down to his drinking. I begged him to stop and he did. The violence didn’t.
Our kids witnessed and were part of situations that have scarred them forever, the older two especially. They lost their chance of childhood innocence.
When I left…
One day, after one of his outbursts, I numbly got the kids and walked to my dad’s house. The neighbours had called the police who came to dad’s to talk to me. My dad was at work, so I called my mum who said she would come and get us and we could stay with her for the night. The police also contacted my local women’s support services who called and asked me to come in and see them on the way to my mum’s.
What I had originally thought was going to be a night at mum’s to cool down turned into a brand new start for myself and my boys.
We called into WAYSS and, after some discussion, were offered a place in a women’s refuge. I was completely taken by surprise but knew the opportunity couldn’t be turned down. We spent the next three months there getting back on our feet before getting a house of our own.
As an Advocate…
Meeting women at the refuge – both staff and the women staying there – inspired me to want to help more women. Up until then I had felt stupid and worthless, but being at the refuge surrounded by so many clever, funny, beautiful, strong women – I realised I was one of them too.
Empowering women is now my passion, my calling.
I went on to do my Diploma of Community Services. I have organised flash mobs to raise community awareness about family violence which my boys, my dad and I danced in together.
I am also now part of the safe steps Survivor Advocate program which has given me further opportunities to reach out to women who are where I once was. Recently, I spoke to a group of women still living in domestic violence. I sat with women of different ages and cultures and together we shared the pain and shame we had felt because of our relationships with our partners and the damage it was causing to our kids. There was tears and hand holding and one of the women said how much she appreciated how ‘real’ I was.
Hopefully, by showing how far I have come in five years, I can give some women the self-confidence and strength to know that they can get out too, to know that you can live happy and free from violence.
To anyone reading this who is experiencing abuse…
To any woman living in family violence, please know that there are people and places that can help and support you through leaving when you feel safe and ready to go. There are people that won’t judge or question you but help you to start healing and find a new direction.
safe steps recognises that survivors have been among the most powerful activists for change regarding societal attitudes towards family violence. By courageously sharing their stories, survivors have raised community awareness about abuse in the home, and pushed for important political and sector reforms.
We share the stories of some of our safe steps Survivor Advocates to ensure their powerful experiences are heard by even more people, and honour the important contribution each woman has made as an advocate and an activist.