real life

Seven weeks after her wedding, Tamara was almost killed by her husband. 

“It’s never going to change. And if it does change, it’s only going to get worse. A hole in the wall will lead to a hole on your body.”

Tamara Henry, 25, knows this all to well. She lived it for five years, and is a survivor of domestic violence.

Seven weeks after her wedding to her ex-husband in 2018, and one year ago exactly today, Tamara says she nearly died by his hands on their marital bed.

Women and violence: The Hidden Numbers. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

“He picked me up by the throat and threw me into the toilet. I landed with my wrist in the bowl. I started screaming and crying, I was in a lot of pain.

“He was standing over me saying ‘shh babe, shh stop.’ He grabbed me by my hair and smashed my head into the toilet bowl so hard it broke. Before he’d even let go of my hair, he starts going ‘shh babe, stop crying, please stop.’

“I tried to crawl away, and he slammed my head into a solid wood door. I remember screaming as loud as I could,” Tamara told Mamamia.

Tamara ran into the bedroom and grabbed her phone. She’d been recording the fight, their worst one ever. But she quickly hit stop to instead call Triple Zero.

“He threw my phone away before I could dial. He threw me onto the bed, my head landed between the two pillows. He climbed on top of me, (he was 115kg, I was 50kg.) He wrapped his hands around my throat and I remember him pushing down and going ‘shut up shut up’.

“I have never heard something like that come out of a human. It was evil,” Tamara remembers.

“He was strangling me. I remember looking around thinking, what do I do? I thought ‘this is how you die. I’m going to die here.’ I remember trying to get as much air as I could but I couldn’t. My head started getting funny and then he just stopped. He got off,” she said.

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Tamara is telling her story as part of Voices of Change. A platform by Domestic Violence NSW trying to change community attitudes towards gendered violence. Image: Lexie Reeves.
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After the incident, Tamara describes Adam* suddenly crumbling at her feet when he realised she had managed to get on the line to an emergency operator.

"He got on his knees crying and saying 'babe think about what you're doing we're going to lose our house. We'll lose everything, I'll go to jail..' he was begging me to hang up. 'Why are you doing this to me, why are you doing this? I thought you loved me?'"

Like the dozens of times before, Tamara felt herself becoming submissive. It was her default. She was so used to being wrong. Being the bad guy. Feeling like she was a horrible person. Being a 'f**king s***' as her husband constantly called her.

It wasn't until the next day when Adam was released on bail, that something in Tamara finally clicked.

She called him.

"Do you know what you've done? You've ruined our lives, you've done all of this," he yelled down the line.

"Do you know what I have been through? I had to sit in a cold cell with no pillows and no blanket."

In that last sentence, she fell back to reality.

"I kind of just snapped and said do you know what I've been through? I was shocked," she said.

"He said 'nothing happened Tamara, what are you going on about, nothing happened. You're making this all up.'"

In the court case that followed, Adam plead guilty on the pretence that she remove 'strangulation' from her testimony. She did.

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Tamara feels strong and happy now. It has been a year since she left her ex. Image: Lexie Reeves.
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From the very start, their relationship had been rocky.

They'd been on and off, and had terrible fights that more often then not ended in either or both of them storming off and 'ending' the relationship. But Tamara kept going back when he begged.

Why?

She asks herself this everyday, but it's a lot easier to judge on the outside. As most domestic violence victims will tell you, it's very different on the inside.

"I had hope. So much hope he was going to change. Once we got engaged it would be different. Once we got married it would be different... I hoped he would change as he grew up, but it didn't happen," she told Mamamia.

Since the conclusion of the court case last October that allowed Tamara to close the chapter on that portion of her life, she has moved from Sydney to Queensland to get away and let herself heal.

"I am in a new relationship, and it's so amazingly different. When I look back I realise every element was unhealthy.

"I second guessed a lot of what happened because he made me. But now I am in a real relationship, I realise what I did go through. I wasn't making it up."

Tamara knows she wasn't making it up when she was newly engaged, and surrounded by friends at a music concert when he yelled; "I don't love you, you're a f**king s***, I am f**king leaving you," for 20 minutes, all because she wouldn't give him his wallet.

She is certain she wasn't making it up when she caught him messaging another love interest on the day they picked up their wedding bands, and he told her while she sobbed at a friend's house: "this is stupid, this is all your fault. We are standing in someone else's backyard, you're embarrassing us, pull your s*** together."

She definitely knows she wasn't making it up when she tapped him on the shoulder on their wedding day to go and get photos and the videographer caught him spray at her; "f*** off you f***ing c***."

And despite being hissed at, called a s*** and given death stares at the court case by her husband's band of supporters, she wasn't making up the seven minute long video of the final act of abuse he subjected her to which was played in full to the courtroom.

Six months on from that, Tamara is strong, and happy.

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A year ago, Tamara was nearly murdered by her ex-husband. She's lucky to be alive. Image: Supplied.

"It's your basic human right to be respected and safe, no one has a right to take that away," she tells Mamamia. 

But she knows there are women out there in the clutches of domestic violence, many of whom don't know how to get out.

In Tamara's case, she hid the abuse perfectly. Her family and friends didn't have any clue as to the exttent of it. But she wishes they did.

"If someone had [told me] you are experiencing domestic violence and that I was in an abusive relationship I would have left. I didn't want to be one of those women," she said.

She's determined to do her part in the community around her. Just yesterday, her ears pricked up when a colleague started talking about a friend's relationship. The behaviour didn't sit well.

"Just check in and ask if they know if their friends are in an abusive relationship. Just lightly asking questions, you don't have to ask outright. Just be on their radar," she insisted.

In Australia, we lose one woman every week to domestic violence.

Tamara is speaking out to ensure that women who have experienced family violence and sexual assault are heard.

Voices for Change is giving women with lived experience a platform to share their stories. Because these stories need to be told.

We are losing too many women to domestic violence.

*name changed.

May 1st is Domestic and Family Violence Day.

If you need support, please call 1800 Respect, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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