“As if she didn’t know how crazy he was.”
“That wouldn’t have been the first time he’s spoken to her like that.”
“She married him. She would have known what he was like.”
And let the victim blaming commence.
Last night on A Current Affair a shocking video aired in which former deputy Auburn mayor Salim Mehajer verbally abused his estranged wife Aysha, sending shock waves (actually not that shocked) around the country.
In his own defence, Salim Mehajer claims the video has been “taken out of context” and to quote my husband, “I wouldn’t want to see which context it’s been taken out of”. Unless he was a making a video called, How NOT To Talk To Someone You Claim To Love, then there’s not a lot of context.
This guy who has done everything possible to get us all to notice him, flashing his bling like it makes him a better person and making a ridiculous spectacle out of his wedding. Now we have seen a much darker side.
This morning as I prepared to comment on the story on the Today Show on Nine I spoke to friends and colleagues about the topic, asking them what they thought about it and these friends - all of whom are women - all made comments that in my mind are nothing short of victim blaming.
Let's make one thing clear. Aysha is the victim in this. She is not to blame.
This morning I spoke about Salim Mehajer on the Mixed Grill, calling him a few choice names, many of which I borrowed out of the book of 2GB and Nine host Ben Fordham who was as horrified as the rest of us.
And yet still people chose to blames Aysha. It left me feeling incredibly frustrated and sad.
WATCH: Salim Mehajer verbally abusing and threatening estranged wife Aysha. (Post continues...)
"As if she didn't know how crazy he was."
Love does many things but one of the things it's most famous for is leaving us blind. Perhaps Salim Mehajer had shown this side of himself to his future wife, however I would bet money it probably wasn't directed at her. She hadn't pissed him off yet. She may have seen him get angry at other people and may even have understood his outrage. However she was in love, preparing to marry and may have convinced herself they deserved to be spoken to like that.
Maybe when it came to his treatment of her she'd only ever known him as her adoring boyfriend then fiance. He clearly enjoyed lavishing her with the finest things in life and if their wedding video is anything to go by she felt treasured.
That doesn't mean he didn't change later. That doesn't mean that once the wedding was done and in his mind she now belonged to him, he no longer felt the need to hold that part of himself from her. That's probably why she left just a few short months after the wedding and then needed the protection of an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).
"That wouldn't have been the first time he's spoken to her like that."
Many men think they can speak to their wives like that. I remember someone I thought I loved once saying to me over dinner, "No wife of mine will ever work after we have kids", and my love for him dying in an instant. Had he really just said that?
Yes he had.
I know so many women who have married men from different cultures and some men have simply changed overnight, on the actual wedding night. The adoring, loving, affectionate, protective fiance they knew and loved became their captor. They now belonged to him. God had given them to him and now they had to do what he wanted them to do.
It's that sudden.
LISTEN: Family violence victim Rosie Batty speaks to Mia Freedman on No Filter. (Post continues...)
"She married him. She would have known what he was like."
I don't agree that Aysha is safer now that this video has gone public. I am worried that she is in more danger than ever before. We have now seen behind the facade that Salim Mehajer spent millions of dollars trying to project. All those stupid videos and media stunts, now shown for the fake, manipulative stunts they were.
Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence knows that the most dangerous time is after they've left their partner - that is when their partner has nothing left to lose.
To date there is no record of Salim Mehajer ever having been anything but verbally abusive towards his estranged wife Aysha. All we have is the video to go by and as I said this morning, if this is what he is like on the phone, imagine what he would be like at home.
She can never go back, nor would she ever go back. Aysha has done everything possible to protect herself from the man she thought loved her. She's removed all images of him from her social media accounts and kept a dignified silence over the split.
Until this video was released by a "friend" who was "concerned for her safety".
The police are investigating this video, and so they should. It's hard to know where to begin when discussing why it is so offensive. The fact he speaks to someone he claims to love like that. His audacity in mentioning The Koran. Threats of violence towards her mother and father. Accusations that she has f**ked twelve men. Saying, "I hope you die". Trying to control her by telling her she had to return his call in five minutes.
Anyone who "speaks" domestic violence gets the gist of what he is saying:
"Call me back in five minutes because I say so. If you don't I will get revenge and you will only have yourself to blame."
Women of Australia, please stop blaming the victim. Please stop trying to figure out how it is her fault. Perhaps the reason they do victim blame in cases like this is to convince themselves it could never happen to them.
None of us are safe from family violence and the only way for us to protect ourselves is to come together in situations like this and give women like Aysha all of the support we can, even if it is just in thought.
Mehajer clearly feeds of attention and I hope he isn't enjoying this particular round of it. I hope his friends aren't patting him on the back for showing the women of Australia what happens when you choose to leave someone like him.
Stay safe Aysha. I stand behind you and I want the women of Australia to stand behind you. You are a strong, brave woman and I wish you nothing but safety and freedom and a wonderful future free from all forms of abuse from those who are meant to love you unconditionally.
If you or someone you know has been or is a victim of family violence please call the Family Violence Hotline at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit White Ribbon Australia.