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'It started with emotional abuse. It ended with me being beaten with a baseball bat.'

If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic abuse, help is available. Please call 1800 RESPECT or visit the website. If you are in immediate danger, phone 000.

I’m a mother, daughter, sister and a friend – just like many of you. I’m also a victim and a survivor of a horrific domestic violence attack.

I want to share my story to raise awareness of the issue and stop domestic violence from happening again.

My journey started in 2012. I suffered a horrific attack at the hands of a perpetrator who would not take “no” for an answer. It started with emotional and psychological abuse, including telling lies, stealing money and insults. And it ended with me being beaten with a baseball bat to within an inch of my life.

My parents were informed that there was slim chance I would survive the night. My children were told to say their goodbyes.

But somehow, through my determination and the support of family and friends, I got through it. So here I am today sharing my story, in between all the treatments, operations and therapies that I will have to go through for the rest of my life.

This incident has scarred me forever – I have lost my eyesight on my right side and my sense of smell. My skull is currently held together with screws and titanium plates. The ripple effect of this on my children has been unimaginable. Each day I’m reminded of the attack when I look in the mirror.

Images: Supplied.
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Before 2012, I was oblivious to domestic violence. I wish I had educated myself on this subject and learned about the red flags in a relationship so I could stop this from happening right at the start. But I didn’t, and now I’m suffering the consequences.

I believe there are many others out there just like the pre-2012 me who are unaware of the danger signs. These could be in the form of:

  • Controlling behaviours
  • Belittling attitudes
  • Inconsiderate actions (e.g. flirting with other people in front of you)
  • Lying
  • Stealing

These are by no means sure indicators for a person who would commit violent acts but they are definitely potential signs of a toxic relationship. Recognising these “red flags” can potentially save lives, whether it be yours or a mate’s.

This is the reason why I’m speaking today.

I want to raise awareness of domestic violence and give strength to victims to get out of violent relationships. I want to help people see the red flags and provide them the information they need to protect themselves and seek help if required.

Using my personal story of determination, resilience, courage and strength, I want to champion non-violence against women and children.

Together, let’s stop domestic violence.

***

Simone O'Brien will be sharing more of her incredibly story at an annual fundraising event for RizeUp, an organisation that provides much-needed practical support to women and children escaping violent situations - from help furnishing a new home, to providing food and toiletries.

The luncheon, which will be held on September 13 at RACV Royal Pines Resort, Benowa, will also feature Mamamia co-founder Mia Freedman and beloved radio hosts Robin Bailey and Emily Jade O’Keefe.

"We’re proud to have such a high-profile group of women on-board who see the critical nature of the issue and join in our mission to eradicate domestic violence," said CEO and Founder of RizeUp Australia, Nicolle Edwards. "Simone’s story is just one example of why society needs to be rising up."

For more information and tickets, visit EventBrite.

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