Hundreds of people watched as Arman Abrahimzadeh's father killed his mother.

Trigger warning: This post contains an account of domestic abuse that may be triggering for some readers.

As far back as Arman Abrahimzadeh can remember, his childhood was marred by violence and abuse.

“It was a normal thing,” the 29-year-old told Mamamia.

“It got so bad that we were quite literally threatened to be burnt – to be killed – in our family home, so we decided to pack our bags and leave.”

Arman, whose family moved from Iran to Australia when he was 10, suffered near constant physical and psychological abuse from his father, alongside his sisters and mother, throughout his growing up years.

His Afghan-born father, Ziaollah, struggled to adjust to life in a new country and relieved his resentment by tormenting his family.

A year after Arman fled with his mother, Zahra, older sister, Atena, and younger sister, Anita, Ziaollah tracked them down, even in spite of their tireless efforts to keep hidden.

Ziaollah was hell-bent on carrying out the threat he had made against his wife and in March 2010, he managed it in the most horrific way possible.

It was Persian New Year’s Eve and Zahra was with Atena at an event at the Adelaide Convention, when he snuck in with a knife.

Arman and his two sisters. Image supplied.

In front of their daughter and 300 strangers, he stabbed his wife eight times.

When Arman arrived at the centre his 44-year-old mother was lifeless in a pool of her own blood.

It was a sight he will never forget and the loss of their parents – Ziaollah is currently serving a 26-year non-parole sentence in prison – left Arman and Atena to raise their younger sister, who was only just a teenager at the time.

"It never leaves you," he said. "Seven years has gone passed and at times it can be as fresh as the day after my mum passed away.

"I always question how things would be if my mum was around. I can tell you that an hour does not go by when I don’t think about my mum, even to this day."

Since his mother's death, Arman, alongside his older sister, has become a determined campaigner against domestic abuse, hoping to transform his tragedy into a way to help others.


He became a White Ribbon ambassador, and in 2015 was named one of the South Australia's Young Australian of the Year finalists for his efforts.

Last year, he established the Zahra Foundation Australia to assist women in crisis, empowering them through education and financial independence.

"The lack of the respect – the lack of gender equality – that’s what it comes down to and the reason why I say that is because I have seen it with my own eyes happening in my family home," he explained.

"It would start off with that disrespect. With my dad not taking my mum’s opinion into account.

Arman with the CEO of SA Harcourts Realestate. (Image supplied)

"It would be my dad being emotionally abusive to my mum.

"My dad taking control of the entire family and making decisions based on what he thinks is best for the family.

"It would be him psychologically abusing my family, me, my sisters and my mum, and it keeps escalating to physical abuse, to taking the ultimate control of someone’s life and ending their life."

Teaching men the importance of respect is one of the reasons Arman joined the male-led White Ribbon campaign.

"We are reminded of the victims, of the violence and the abuse ... but when it comes to getting the perpetrator involved in the conversation and – to a degree – hold them responsible and accountable we tend to forget that," he said.

The reality is, one in three Australian women will be victims of men's violence, which is why as White Ribbon Day approaches on Friday November 25, Arman is urging men to take the White Ribbon oath to actively fight against abuse in all it's forms.

"If they do hear a friend step over the line and share a sexist joke, if they do hear a friend putting their partner down in front of them, if they see any form or violence or abuse to simply stand up and speak out and take action against it.

"We as a society have a responsibility and if we see something then we should say something or do something."

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.