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.”