Four DV survivors have come forward and shared their stories. Generic image.
Four DV survivors have come forward and shared their stories. Generic image.

DV survivors share their stories to help spread awareness

THIS month is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month.

The scourge of domestic and family violence is one that exists in every town in every corner of the world, but it's not an acceptable trend.

Statistics and spokespeople are definitely helpful in bringing the issue to light, but can only take the conversation so far.

If we want to understand the true extent of the damage DFV has on families in our community, we need to hear it directly from the victims.

To this end, the NewsMail has been in contact with some victims through mutual friends at EDON Place, a local domestic and family violence centre.

The following accounts come directly from EDON Place clients, but for privacy reasons the names of the clients have been changed.

*Disclaimer: Some readers might find parts of the following accounts distressing.

 

"Sarah"

I had known him growing up.

We were friends for years and then met up again years later briefly.

We went our separate ways again. When I was 19, we again crossed paths and decided to date.

At the time I had a young daughter and was a single mother.

Things moved very fast within weeks we were living together.

Immediately I look back and see he began to show very controlling behaviour.

He took full control of my phone and did not allow me contact with my family.

We moved in to live with his family.

A few more weeks in it turned to physical abuse.

He was very jealous and would interrogate me over any interactions he found on my social media accounts even though they were not recent. I was never allowed to shower alone.

My clothes were ripped up and my personal belongings broken. He controlled all the money.

I was completely isolated and a young mum. I later discovered he had blocked all my family from contacting me so I believed they just didn't care.

The physical abuse became worse over time and the emotional and psychological abuse was just as bad. He monitored every move I made.

I was never even allowed to shower alone. He would just stand and watch me.

Domestic violence changed me.

I lost all my friends and contact with my family. I lost my confidence and I lost all respect for myself. I had gone from being an independent single happy mum to completely controlled in every aspect of my life.

I lived in total fear - I did not sleep; I did not eat. I was mentally and physically broken. I no longer did anything for myself. I cared for my child and was abused day in, day out.

I stayed for 9 years and had more children in this time but I left many times.

On one occasion I left 5-6 times in 2 months. The more times I ran away the better he got at finding at me.

One time I even remember considering jumping out of our moving vehicle to get away but I knew that wasn't a good plan as he would most likely catch me.

The final straw came one night after yet another beating and being interrogated for hours over who I spoke to years ago or previous partners. This incident was different.

I was locked in a room and beaten and then forced to have sex while I lay in pain. This lasted all night. I was petrified.

The next morning my daughter was asking what had happened to my face and I saw that he had no remorse for his actions this time. I knew I had to leave.

I wish I had never got into the relationship. I wish that I hadn't been so scared of being a single mother. I wish I didn't have such strong family values about families staying together and children needing their dad. I wish that I realised sooner his words were empty all the times he promised it would get better and be different.

If I can share anything now it would be this - If your instincts tell you to leave, get out while you can. Leave now.

I have a fresh start now and my children and I are doing well.

 

"Jane"

My situation first started at the age of 17, when I started a relationship with this person.

At first I started to lose my close friends, then my family because this person made me believe that my family were awful people so I would be better off away from them.

Living in a situation like that was horrible, I never knew what could happen next, which was super stressful.

It has impacted my life in many ways, a lot of anxiety, I also have difficulty in making decisions about my life or anything it can be something big or small.

I was in the situation for 19 years.

I was convinced of the fact that I needed help when I could feel the situation getting far more worse by the day, and when this person started to turn their anger towards the children.

When the seriousness of the situation was setting in I wish I would of told myself that I didn't deserve what was happening to me and definitely was not my fault and I would of also told myself to reach out to someone for help as soon as possible.

My advice for the people that might be in a similar situation would be that you deserve to he happy and safe, please seek help there are many great support people and places out there.

 

"Mary"

I was 15 years old when domestic violence first started in my life.

It got worse after having my daughter at 17 years of age. I left when I was 18.

In that time, he would break into my home, he would stalk me and was still physically violent to me.

He would damage my car, remove parts under the bonnet so I could not drive it, he would take all of my money. It was a nightmare.

The second time was when I was 19 and that lasted for 17 years, it was worse than the first relationship.

He had done all the same things as the first relationship and much more. Just after our son was five weeks old, he said he had sex with a guy, I have had so many STD test with each relationship.

I am lucky they all came back good, I left that relationship after three years but went back for the children.

Then when I decided it was finally over, he kidnapped my children and said he was the devil and still continued to stalk me, break into my home. He set fire to my bed, smashed my car windows.

The third relationship was when I was 38 and that lasted for five years, but this time I reported some of the violence to the police. And every time he would go before the magistrate, he would say he was sorry and he would never do it again, but the violence continued.

It has impacted my life in so many ways, from losing my self-worthiness, losing my identity, I felt like I was locked in a cave and lost touched with everyone.

It made me sad and lonely.

I had enough and just wanted it to end.

But I have faith so I always prayed to God and his angels.

I tried to seek help in the first two relationships but I was ashamed to tell anyone.

I always believed the lies that they would never do it again and that they loved me and they were sorry.

But actions proved more than words, it never stopped.

Because I had no family support, I always accepted that it was okay.

But in the end enduring physical violence, verbal violence and being told what I could wear, being told I could not listen to music, being told I was not allowed to buy toys etc. for my child, being told I was not allowed to buy things for my home, being told I was not allowed to go to TAFE, being told that I was not allowed to have friends, bring told what TV and movies I was allowed to watch, being told I was never allowed to go on a holiday with my son anywhere.

I had gone full circle and decided that was it, no longer would I accept to be abused or controlled.

The last relationship he would listen to scary I think it is called death metal music and screamo music.

He was so different from me.

He was very unhygienic.

I look back now and think 'How on Earth did I encounter any of those relationships?'.

But I do have five beautiful children whom I love with all of my heart.

To anyone experiencing any form of domestic violence;

It is not acceptable.

Do not lose your identity nor your shine.

Seek help straight away.

Never feel ashamed of what maybe occurring.

It is not right for someone you love to treat you that way.

Be strong to know it is not right and to never return to that relationship.

I guess if one does not have family support and who came from a domestic violence background and being abused as a child, we cannot see what a healthy relationship is like.

Domestic violence has to stop.

 

"Kate"

When I was 36 years old, we married and started living together with his parents.

Before we were married, he would often ask when, where and who I would meet on my days off from work. I thought that he was jealous from his love.

After living together, when I went to TAFE we talked about friends and he would ask "Is he your type? Do you like him?" He didn't like all my friends.

Even when watching TV and I would say that actor is nice, his mood would get worse and he would say "You want to have sex with him!!"

When we had a baby, he was on drugs and had depression, he did not look after our baby. Even his father was on drugs with him and his mother didn't care about it.

His parents and I did not have a good relationship, but the relationship looked good on the surface to others.

I had our second baby, so we moved to our own unit. He had a part time job.

He preferred working afternoon shifts so he slept and woke up in the afternoon.

When the baby and toddler would make a noise, he would get very angry.

So, I would go grocery shopping and to the library with the children while he was sleeping. But when we would return home, if he was awake, he would say "Why do you need to go out for so long time?"

He was always on the computer or watching movies.

I still suspected he was using, selling, buying drugs but he hid them from me and told lies. He would tell me they are medicine for back ache or head ache.

Once he over dosed. He had froth from his mouth and struggled to breathe. I called the ambulance - he told the paramedics he had taken strong painkillers.

He had knowledge about drugs and medicine. Another time police came to our house and asked him if he was selling strong prescription medicine, he told them that he got them from the pharmacist and he did not know anything.

He promised me that he would stop taking drugs when moved and I wanted to trust him.

One day he said to me "You just wanted to have babies you are semen stealer!!"

I did not spend much time with him, I was exhausted from looking after the two children myself.

I told him it is hard now and when the children grow up more, we can have our time.

I believed this situation will be better in the future.

When we would go out he would not help me. I would be carrying children's bags and holding our toddler's hand, heavily pregnant, he would walk by himself and yell at me "You are f----n' slow."

He acted like a good father in front of other people.

I had our third baby, we moved to another house. He was working at the time and did not fit into the work environment.

He believed his co-workers were putting poison into his food. He didn't have any friends.

I began to look down at him, I don't respect him.

I told him when all the children go to school and childcare I can work, but he said "Why do you want to go outside?"

I couldn't continue the conversation knowing it would end in an argument.

After he quit his work, I gave birth to our third baby, He yelled at me in the birth suits. I had lost a lot of blood, more than normal, I had a shower and I asked him to pass me my clothing.

He started yelling "F--k! You embarrassed me!!" The midwife went out of my room.

He sucked laughing gas when I gave birth each time.

After I came back home, he said "Kids need a mother" and he didn't help to look after a then 4-year-old, 1-year-old and new born baby.

"You wanted to have kids, you should to look after all of them." and pushed me and our new born baby.

He started saying weird things. "3 years ago, when you went to the library, your breath had a semen smell. You went to the library to have sex." "When we met your sister's family you had sex with your sisters' husband."

When I could go to school to collect our daughter he would say "You go to school to find a sex partner."

When I would go to our backyard, he would say "Who would want to see you?"

He would stay with me all day and checked my phone constantly. He would make things up in his head, like one time he saw a prostitute on the internet the same age as me, he believed that was me.

One day he set a recorder with his phone and he picked up my daughter. No one was allowed to visit our house but he said "A man's voice was there, and I could hear your sex voice". That was my voice trying to amuse our crying toddler, as our toddler stepped on a block and cried.

He started breaking the Christmas tree, the children's toys, then he brought out a knife and said "I'm going to kill you."

He strangled me, punched my face and pushed my body. This happened many times.

That had all happened in front of the children. I asked his parents for help but they said "He didn't kill you, did he? We can't help with anything. That is between you."

They told me if I called the police, I will lose my children as they will think both parents are bad. They pressured me to stay.

He was good sometimes his bad emotions came "only" every 3-6 months. I still thought children needed their father, I wanted to have a happy family.

I tried to persuade him. I could not tell anyone even my family. I tried to not make him angry so I didn't contact to my family and friends, I could not see anyone except his family. I pretended to be a happy mum on the outside.

I never knew how much money we had. He would never tell me anything about our money.

I needed to ask for what do we need to buy, how much it costs, even provided me with a shopping list. He made a sub bank account and moved a couple of hundred to joint account.

The children could not play with friends, when we would go to festivals we needed to stay in the one spot and he would keep checking what was happening.

We were allowed to see only his family and visit only his parent's house. If I did anything the wrong way, even little things, he would yell at me in front of the children.

Things were getting worse and he became angry every month then every 2 weeks. He invited his friend's family to stay with us. They all slept in one room with their children.

He collected the sheets that they slept on and sniffed the sheets saying "You and my friend had sex. I smell you." "No, you had sex in the car, I can see the mark."

He even bought UV ray lights and checked everywhere throughout the house and car.

He said our neighbour would rape me.

When I said "Hello and how are you?" to neighbours, he said "Why do you need to say hello and talk about the weather with them?"

He said "All our neighbours are always watching us; they want to steal our information."

He broke the old computer because he was paranoid that anyone could steal information. He told me one time that "The lady is standing near the tree and watching us." (I checked - no one was there.)

Another time he said a tree had a gun and was talking to him. I asked his parents to help, they said he just needed sleep.

A couple weeks later he said he was in trouble and a person will be coming here to rape me. He had knives and made barricades inside and outside the house. He gave me a small knife and told me how to kill a person.

I just stayed in the room with children. He stayed outside until after midnight, nothing happened.

When he is angry, he always told me I have another man.

He told our daughter "Your mum is a f-----g pig; she is trying to contact her boyfriend."

There were many other things that happened that I had serious concerns about.

I realised our situation was not normal and something was wrong. But I did not talk to anyone because I was not confident that my thoughts were right or not.

I thought and thought and thought but could not find answers. I was worried I might lose everything and how could we survive without a house or money.

I found a place to talk about this situation on the internet, and my first contact was a couple of months ago first, I was told we were in a very dangerous situation but when I talked he was not too bad so I said I will think more.

They sent a message constantly checking if everything was OK.

It was very hard to make the decision to leave but after abuse of our child, I knew I had no choice. I could make right decision finally.

I secretly packed bags to leave. He found the kids' shoes bag and got angry and said I was a b---h. He took the children to his parent's house.

I tried to take back the shoes, he said "This is defence" and started kicking my stomach and pushed me into the children's bike.

I thought this was the first and last chance to escape.

I called the police. He kept pushing and punching me and he broke my phone.

I now have a DVO in place so children came back to me and I left there with the children.

Kate said she lived in an isolated situation for five years, and a physically abusive situation for three years.

I believed I could change him, I believed I could have a happy family, especially having three little children so the hardest time is only now, it will be better in the future.

I could not have an opinion; I was had to make him happy but I was not. It made me negative.

Kate said her DFV support worker constantly kept in touch, despite being told "everything was fine".

She explained to me that most people think and feel like me, but unfortunately the situation will not change. My feeling was right, my acting was right.

If she had any words of advice for her younger self, it was these:

You cannot change him. His family will hide all criminal evidence and take his side.

Keep as much evidence as possible. Don't trust anyone on his side.

When it is safe, escape as soon as possible.

And while her road ahead isn't entirely clear, she doesn't regret getting support and escaping her situation.

Talk to Domestic & Family Violence Support Services or talk to trustworthy person.

Firstly, needing to notice your situation is not normal and is dangerous. Just because the perpetrator says we are wrong and things go bad - it is not your fault.

There are many people out there to help you and your children, trust yourself, be strong, be brave, remember you are strong. You need to have a happy life, smiling and laugh.

My Family Law Court matters are in process and I don't know what will happen in the future. I worry about our future and how can I obtain a job.

What can I do that is best for me and my children?

But since escaping, the children have started laughing, showing their emotions, making friends, we can go to park and beach whenever we want.

The children are interested in many other things and can sometimes be challenging.

Our future looks to be blossoming and I do not regret leaving.

 

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.. For urgent matters, contact the Queensland Police by dialling Triple-Zero (000).

For non-urgent matters, Queensland Police have developed an online contact option, which you can find out more about here.


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