I met my ex when I was out in a jazz venue. He was very good looking and charming.
It was a whirlwind romance and he was soon eating meals at my house regularly.
I first realised something was wrong when he became very angry with me for not telling him of a past relationship. He also would isolate me from others and not include me in parties and other gatherings.
His behaviour included regular “putdowns”, I could never do anything right. I would be accused of lying frequently and he would accuse me of being out at places I was not. There was a mind game attached to everything.
He would shun me when we were out with others in public – he was always angry with me for something. I was the wrong religion and I was told off for doing my yoga and meditation.
It made me feel very distressed. I cried a lot. I felt sick in the stomach and could not sleep at night. I became nervous and very “jumpy” of which he would tell me that I must be guilty of some wrong doing – that in his mind was why I was jumpy.
I hoped he would change or get help but he refused to enter into any conversation about this as I was the one who was “faulty”!
The last straw was when we were away on vacation together and he refused to speak to me for the whole two weeks. This was my punishment for opening my “big mouth” again; if only I kept my mouth shut everything would be okay! The relationship ended but he continued to send me abusive messages for some time until I got an intervention order.
The period in the abusive relationship for me was under two years. During that time, I was slapped, pushed and held down. Without a doubt, the physical violence would have escalated if I had stayed. It always does – without exception.
He wanted to continue controlling me after I left and the relationship ended.
I was a strong woman when I began this journey. I had endured a great deal on my own before meeting my former partner, and I am a stronger woman now.
No doubt each of you reading this have a story of your own or of a mother, a sister, a daughter or friend who has been a victim of crimes against women.
I believe it is our duty to give these women a voice, to listen, support, to reassure them that there is help available and that they no longer need to feel isolated, guilty, fearful, shamed, unworthy!
In my experience there are a couple of recurring themes out there regarding family violence.
Firstly, ignorance is alive and well. It is essential therefore, that we continue to advocate to and educate our influential leaders, religious groups, educational institutions, our neighbours, friends and family members.
It is encouraging that the Royal Commission has left no stone unturned in teasing out this very complex issue that impacts us all. At last, perpetrators will be held to account and no longer will society blame the woman for ‘not leaving’ or for antagonising him.
We are all part of the change that is required.
Liberal MP, Sarah Henderson gave a powerful speech to parliament in February on domestic violence. You can watch this below. Post continues after video.
The Royal Commission is holding our government to account by setting up an Advisory Panel which is fundamental in ensuring the necessary changes are made over several years, in order to have women and children feel safe and live full, and empowered lives free from violence.
I am most grateful to the Commission and the Victorian Government for forging forward in order to bring about permanent change and save lives.
Secondly, women MUST be made aware that there is help available. Organisation like safe steps Family Violence Response Centre are doing vital work on the front line providing 24/7 access to intervention, support and advocacy services.
Women need to know where they can go where they will be believed and empowered to take control of their lives.
That relationship ended almost nine years ago and I now feel great, confident, fantastic and excited about my life again.
For people living with family violence I want to reassure them that there is hope and with the right support you can rebuild your life free of violence.
If you or someone you care about is living with family violence please call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.