At Mamamia, we have a year-round commitment to highlighting the epidemic of domestic violence in Australia. During May, Domestic Violence Prevention Month, we will not only raise awareness of the personal impact of violence, but do our best to ensure victims have access to help, and encourage those who abuse to take responsibility and seek help for their behaviour.
This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers.
*Chelsey is a mum of three girls from NSW. And recently, she made the decision to leave her abusive husband.
Like all domestic violence survivors, it has taken time, energy and money to build herself a new life. Chelsey has had the financial support of her family during this challenging time. But as for emotional support - it's been rocky.
"I did the maths recently and realised what a massive toll it all was. I had to loan almost $15,000 straight off my parents. I've had to do trauma counselling, all while trying to support myself and my kids," Chelsey said to Mamamia.
In the early days, Chelsey knew she would have to move back in with her parents in order to look after herself and the kids. It was an option she was thankful to have, knowing some women have nowhere else to go. But that doesn't mean it wasn't an emotionally taxing experience.
"I was back living with my parents, which is just a nightmare. It's really degrading. And I guess I'm lucky that I have family, but on the same token, you don't want to be a 40-something-year-old living back at home."
Watch: Women and violence, the hidden numbers. Post continues below.
Before Chelsey left, things looked relatively good from the outside.
Her husband had a successful job and her kids were doing great at school. But behind closed doors, Chelsey was experiencing horrific emotional and financial abuse.
"There's so much taboo surrounding family violence and domestic abuse. It's not just about black eyes and broken bones. Financial control and emotional abuse happened throughout my entire relationship. When I became depressed, he told me I was 'a bad mum, a sloth, lazy'. When I tried to clean the house, he'd come home and yell at me for doing it wrong too," Chelsey said.
When it came to the financial abuse, Chelsey didn't have access to bank accounts or credit cards. And as her husband's occupation became more successful, he asked her to stop working so she could manage things at home and support him. Suddenly, she was solely reliant on her husband.