My name is Geraldine, and I am a family violence survivor.
Three years ago, I left my abusive partner. I had spent 5 years loving and living with a man who I should have felt secure, safe and happy with. By the time I left, I felt broken, depressed and riddled with anxiety.
It’s hard to explain what it feels like to live with – and love – someone you fear.
His temper was explosive, and my daughter and I lived our lives on eggshells, carefully choosing our way so as not to cause arguments or set him off.
One night, this man assaulted me in front of our 2-year-old daughter. He threw me through a doorway, and my daughter ran to the bathroom. By the time I scrambled up, I found her hidden in the bathtub, crouched in a ball, hiding. It broke my heart in a way I can’t ever explain. I felt in many ways I had failed her, and I knew at that moment that she and I deserved so much more.
Over the next few hours I tried to leave with my daughter, and was assaulted once more in front of her, leaving me with a black eye.When I finally convinced my partner to take me to a 24-hour medical centre, I limped in, my daughter in my arms, him beside me. There was a security guard at the door, and once inside I screamed “He did this to me!”. He fled. And the hours that followed involved hospital, police and my family.
I had found the strength to leave. But I had left with nothing.
I had the clothes my daughter and I were dressed in and nothing else. I had to face my abuser in court first thing the next morning, dressed in my mother’s clothes. It was the most humiliating experience of
my life. The events that followed were traumatic: despite having an intervention order granted, I was harassed and stalked, and I began to feel like I may not even make it out alive. It was terrifying.
In the midst of all of this, I reached out to safe steps.
My family was my greatest support, but they were grappling to keep us safe and to provide the emotional and practical support I needed.
None of us were equipped enough to handle the situation. Once I made the call to safe steps, they helped me plan things out. They gave me real, valuable information about keeping myself and my daughter safe, and guided me in establishing financial assistance.
I felt understood, heard, and genuinely cared for.
I am forever grateful to safe steps for being there at times when I felt completely broken – I could not have navigated my way out of the abusive cycle without their support.
This is a sad story, but I am so truly pleased to tell you that it is a sad story with a happy ending.
Today, you would not find a happier child than my daughter, nor a happier woman than me. Our lives are wonderful, and I am proud and grateful for all the beautiful aspects of it, as well as the most amazing people in it. Someone told me back when I was first leaving, “The best is yet to come”. They were right. I have the best life, and to say my heart is happy is an understatement.
Sadly, while I’m safe and free, this holiday season, hundreds of women and children will be trapped in violent homes and relationships.
During the last holiday period, safe steps received 18,462 calls to our emergency family violence response line – an 18 per cent increase on the previous year. They also provided 874 women and children with emergency accommodation. This year, we expect these numbers to rise even further.
I know that you believe in a future where every single person in our country can feel safe and loved in their own home.
I hope my story will encourage you to support for those escaping family violence and to play your part in ending the elimination of violence against women and children. Thank you in advance for your generous support of safe steps and the work they are doing together to support women and children to live a life free from family violence.
Please support safe steps this holiday season by giving the gift of a financial donation.
Your gift will bring happiness, safety and support to a family escaping family violence. It’s a gift that will be remembered long after the festive season is over. The work that safe steps is doing is important. It is needed. And it is imperative that it continues.Thank you in advance for your generous support of safe steps and the work they are doing together to support women and children to live a life free from family violence.