On Christmas night, Lani Brennan was almost killed by her former partner.


On Christmas night, Lani Brennan was almost killed by her former partner.

“I knew deep down, like I had that feeling, I was going to die that night,” she recalled on the ABC’s AM program last week.

“We started a bonfire at the front of the house, and when he started the bonfire, he bought out some drinks, and then he came back out. The next time he come back out with a hammer,and he started beating me with the hammer.”

Lani’s partner then dragged her into the house, where he continued to attack her for hours.

“He dragged me in and I was beaten, physically and sexually assaulted the whole night continuously. If you can picture a house, every piece of furniture, every tool that’s inside a household I was beaten with.”

Fortunately, she survived, managing to flee with her six daughters — she now works to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Sadly, Lani’s experience is far from unique and her experience of abuse is one that is echoed in homes around Australia, particularly at Christmas time.

Karen Willis, CEO of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, which runs the 1800 RESPECT hotline, says they are bracing themselves for a busy festive season.

She told AM that domestic violence rates tend to rise over Christmas due to increased alcohol abuse often compounded by financial stress.

According to their website, R&DVSA are expecting calls and contact from more than 750 individuals affected by sexual assault and domestic violence over the Christmas and New Year period.


“We will certainly have non-stop calls around domestic violence that’s occurred around that period of time and police from three o’clock on Christmas Day in the afternoon, their calls just go manic as well,” Ms Willis said, calling on the Government to fast-track urgent funding for domestic violence services.

“We will have 200 shifts, eight hours each on every week over this period and we know that we’re not going to get anywhere near answering every single call to the service.”

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In September Malcolm Turnbull promised $100 million to “stop the violence”. Image: Getty

While Ms Willis welcomed Malcolm Turnbull’s $100 million package to tackle domestic violence, announced in September, she said it will take some time for crucial funding to reach front line services — many of which actually lost funding under the previous Abbott government.

“At the time of the announcement, I mean, that was the first policy announcement, it was the largest chunk of money, we were wildly excited and in fact we received an 8 per cent increase in calls that day as a result of that announcement,” she explained.

“It takes a little bit of time from when money is announced to when it gets to, because it needs to be rolled out, there needs to be contracts and agreements and then of course you need to employ staff, you need to train them up, you need to get them on the job.

“So an announcement last September, may mean an increase in services around about March of next year.”

Unfortunately, for many women, that won’t be soon enough.

You can donate to the Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia Christmas appeal on their website.

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.