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'When I left my violent partner, my mum said my bruised face was a blessing.'

This post deals with domestic abuse and might be triggering for some readers. 

November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and today I want to share with you why many of us across Australia will be walking to raise awareness, and why I’d like you to join us.

Being able to live life freely and safely is our basic human right.

However, since a young age I learnt that even though I shouldn’t have to, being a girl meant I needed to take precautions to remain safe in this world.  

Watch: Women and Violence - The Hidden Numbers. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

I learnt things like; to park my car under lights at the train station, that I should run without headphones in and that I shouldn’t drink too much alcohol around strangers.

This training was provided by those who loved and cared for me. Not because they believed I should have to live my life this way, but because they were afraid of the violence people committed against women and wanted to take every precaution possible.

What was missed in this education was that the place I should be most safe, my home, would become the very place I was most in danger.

To reflect on my own journey I need to rewind a few years where I spent half a decade living with an abusive partner.

It wasn’t always like that. When we first met it was fun, it felt safe, and it was all-consuming passion. But as the years went by things changed. Slowly my partner became my perpetrator and as his power and control over me grew I became less and less sure of who I was.

I remember a time after a particularly brutal onslaught of verbal abuse where I sat on the floor crying, absolutely beaten by his words.

I told him: "I don’t want to be here anymore, I just can’t go on." 

He responded… by laughing. I may not have had a bruise or any broken bones that day, but I was seriously injured. This was violence and I was not safe at home.

On the day I finally escaped, I was physically assaulted. This included copping a hit to the face which meant I wore the pain he inflicted on my face for three weeks after I had left.  

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To this day, my mum often tells me, "Your bruised face was a blessing". It’s very difficult for me to hear, because being physically assaulted is truly terrifying and not something I can ever really accept as being beneficial.  

But my mum is right - in some ways it was a blessing, because that visible sign showed the world what I had been through and without it I may not have received the same level of assistance, support, or response.

I had a narrow escape. Before that, I truly believed I may not make it out alive.  

I had the audacity to leave him and the way he responded showed he had no intention of letting me get away with that final act of rebellion from his power and control.

Listen to Mia Freedman on No Filter. Post continues below.

Nearly six years later I have been so fortunate to find my freedom. My daughter and I have a beautiful life today, albeit with some remaining scars. But unfortunately that is not the case for many.  

Nearly every week across Australia a woman is killed by a current or former partner.  

This year has seen many victims forced into COVID-19 lockdown in the very homes they are being abused in by their perpetrators. My heart has ached knowing that our country’s necessary response to the world’s health pandemic was putting so many women in such grave danger with their abusers.

We should not have to teach our girls to live their lives with precautions against gendered violence.   

We should be free to live our lives however we wish, we should not be in danger just by our existence.   

Our community must be invested in supporting victim’s, dedicated to holding perpetrators of violence accountable for their actions, and committed to creating a future where we prevent all forms of violence occurring.

We must put an end to all acts of violence against women, including those that remain the most well-hidden.  

So on November 25 I ask you to walk with me, to raise awareness to end all Violence Against Women.  

Not just that day, not just the 16 days of activism that follow that day, but every single day, we must commit to fighting for a future where women can live peacefully, freely and safely, without any precautions and in every corner of this world, including in their homes. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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.

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