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Lisa Oldfield admits: “I’ve been a victim of domestic violence and I’m angry"

“Many years ago, I was the repeated victim of a man, who at the time, I loved very much…”

Lisa Oldfield is a survivor of domestic violence. So when she read that Mark Latham had attacked Rosie Batty and said that family violence only happens in disadvantaged communities, it made Lisa’s blood boil.

Today Lisa writes for Mamamia about how the fact she lived in a beautiful beach-side home did nothing to protect her from the blows from a violent ex-partner…

Racing to work this morning, showering, packing my briefcase, kissing sleepy little heads as the kids pop in and out of my room, gratefully taking a hot cuppa from my husband, I took a deep breath and surveyed the cheerful domestic chaos that is my life.

It isn’t glamourous, it’s a little untidy, but like a favourite old jumper, it is warm, familiar and where I feel most comfortable.

My guilty pleasure is the 10 minutes it takes me to blow dry my unruly mop of hair and read the headlines and updates on social media.

But this week, I read something that tore at the tight knit fabric that is my jumper-like life. It took me straight back to a place where I was 20 years ago, cold and alone, but familiar, indeed frighteningly familiar.

My chest tightened, I felt the vomit rise in my throat. I started to shake. I had to read it again.

The headline read “We stand with Rosie Batty against a vile attack”

Lisa Oldfield. Image supplied.

My first thoughts were “Who on Earth would attack Rosie Batty?”

There are few Australians not familiar with Rosie’s tragic story. Having endured horrific violence at the hands of her estranged husband, Rosie watched in horror as her beautiful little boy Luke was savagely beaten to death by his own father, the man who should have, more than anyone, protected him.

Rosie’s palpable and unimaginable grief, combined with her stoicism and conviction, saw Rosie stand up to domestic violence, to let women and children know there was a way out and to ensure that “Luke did not die in vain”.

Rosie was most deservedly and poignantly, awarded Australian of the Year for her work in raising awareness to combat domestic violence and sharing her own horrific experiences.

Rosie and Luke Batty.

Across Australia, people were finally having the conversation that desperately needed to be had. If you were the victim of domestic violence, there was help, there was a way out. If you knew someone who you suspected was being brutalized in their home, you could reach out, let them know you were there to help. Victims no longer had to protect their abusers or cover up their physical and emotional bruises.

So, and excuse my language, but my comprehension skills escaped me this morning, why the fuck was someone, indeed anyone, attacking the woman who had lost so much herself but had done so much for others?

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Clearly whoever was attacking Rosie had to be an angry nutter — and Mark Latham ticked all the boxes. Whether it was bashing a cabbie and breaking his arm or eyeballing and crushing the hand of our then-PM who was many years his senior, Latham has form.

Latham professed his horror that Rosie was being paid to share her story, disgusted that Rosie was flogging her tragic tale as “entertainment” through a speaker’s bureau.

experience of domestic violence
Mark Latham. Image via Getty.

I don’t know about you, but what draws me to a keynote speaker is their triumph over adversity – whether it be a mountain climber scaling Everest and losing companions and limbs to the elements or a teenager sailing solo around the world – it is the strength of the human spirit and the ability to endure that resonates with me long after the event. I don’t go along to be “entertained”

Arguably, Rosie’s horrendous experience and how she works hard to provide succor and an exit to victims of domestic violence is the most inspirational story you’d likely ever hear.

Many years ago, I was the repeated victim of a man, who at the time, I loved very much. It is from that soul-destroying void in my life that I’d like to make a couple of refutations to Latham’s diatribe.

Lisa is now in a loving and supportive relationship with her husband, David. Image supplied.

Mark, domestic violence transcends the barriers of wealth and class.

My experience of domestic violence happened in a beautiful home, on the beach, surrounded by all the trappings of material success – flash European cars, boats, travel and great restaurants. Never, when I was having my face repeatedly pummeled in to the wall, did I think “Why is this happening to me? This isn’t the suburbs?”

There’s nothing quiet about having someone scream at you “for being a filthy slut” for some imagined misdemeanor. And the ringing in your ears that comes with being waylaid by an unexpected punch to the jaw lasts for hours.

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There is also no dignity in trying to layer on make-up to cover the bruises to your mouth, where you have been hit so hard that you can make out the impressions of your teeth. No dignity when you wake up from a concussed sleep to your abuser urinating on you because “even though you’re not worth pissing on, this time I will make an exception”

But Latham is right, you do try and keep it private. How do you explain to the world why this is happening to you, when you don’t understand yourself?

Where do you go, when you don’t know where to go?

“Where do you go, when you don’t know where to go?”

So you keep it to yourself. You make excuses. Maybe I provoked it ? Maybe the occasional bashing is better than people judging you?

You find yourself timid and alone in a cold and empty twilight. Wanting someone, anyone to help you, but not knowing how to ask for help.

The memory of the trauma I experienced came welling to the surface this morning. Indeed, I felt like some phantom hand was tightening around the back of my neck, squeezing. Trying to break me. Again.

But like I did all those years ago, I put on my make-up, plastered on a smile and tried to pretend there was nothing wrong.

But there is something very wrong. At least one woman is murdered by her partner each week in this country. Countless children fear coming home to the place that should be their sanctuary.

Which is why, I will defend Rosie Batty to the marrow of my bones. What Rosie endured is beyond comprehension and my own experience pales in comparison, but that, after losing everything dear to her, her darling boy, she puts herself out there to make sure we keep having this conversation.

“I will defend Rosie Batty to the marrow of my bones.”

So I close dear reader with not sadness, nor anger, but gratitude.

I am grateful for two beautiful little boys who knock the wind out of me because I never realized you could be capable of loving someone so hard and so much.

I am grateful for my husband, who despite being an occasional curmudgeon, is a gentle man who simply wants to protect and keep the three of us safe.

I am grateful that I was able to share my story with you and in some small way, help Rosie in her mission to end domestic violence, that all of us can help or be helped, should the need arise.

And I am certainly grateful that Mark Latham never became our Prime Minister, but thanks to him, at least we continue the discussion.

If you’d like to stand with Rosie behind every victim of family and intimate partner violence, you can find out about her new project here: Never Alone.

For more on Rosie Batty…

Today we stand with Rosie Batty against a vile attack.

On Luke’s birthday, Rosie Batty has a simple message for Australia.

Rosie Batty: These are the ‘red flags’ that signal an abusive relationship.

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