real life

'I got an AVO out against my ex. Then he went and hurt someone else.'

This story discusses domestic violence.

I am a victim survivor of domestic violence, but sometimes surviving even seems like a stretch.

It's been four years since I was granted a five-year no contact domestic violence order. I have since found the most amazing partner; we have married and had a baby. Most people think the horror of my life before is a distant memory, no longer affecting me.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

Yes, the piece of paper has protected me (I'm one of the lucky ones) from being contacted by him. But that piece of paper does not stop the nightmares of being choked, dragged by my hair, punched, and thrown around like a rag doll.

That piece of paper doesn’t protect me from the instant dread I feel when ANYONE in my life gives me a thumbs up emoji, my body now associating a simple thumbs up as a warning for imminent danger, because that's what it meant for years of my life.

That piece of paper doesn’t stop my body tensing up and holding my breath every time I see a white 4WD on road (FYI, there are A LOT of white 4WDs on the road) until I can clearly see the number plate and let out a sigh of relief.

That piece of paper doesn't spare my now husband from constantly having to reassure me that he's not angry, he isn't going to leave, he's not going to yell or throw things. He has never shown any aggression towards me at all, so why doesn't that piece of paper give me the confidence to tell him he didn't stack the dishwasher correctly without hours of mental gymnastics, running over every possible worst reaction scenario in my head?


After I'd escaped, I was sent a newspaper article with the headline: "[my perpetrator] accused of choking, serious assaults of ex-girlfriend". 

My piece of paper didn't protect her or likely the ones in between us who didn't report it.

Watch: Women And Violence: The Hidden Numbers. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

The article explained that he was let out on bail after his legal aid lawyer advised the judge, "He is well placed, he works in the CBD, he earns over $100,000 a year," and the judge let him out because, "Each of the alleged events occurred some time ago, and there is no suggestion that there has been any offending since August of this year."

I cried. I can't stop thinking that I have somehow let another woman down. I have no idea who she is, but I have so much guilt that my piece of paper didn't protect her. Based on the article, she has her own piece of paper now, which will possibly keep her physically safe. But what about the next one and the one after that and what happens when finally, he goes too far (because he will) and his final victim doesn't even have the chance to get a piece of paper?


Our pieces of paper may (if we’re one of the lucky ones) protect us physically, but it doesn't do anything to help the daily struggle to survive after enduring what we did.

Why does he get to walk free because he earns a certain amount of money and it’s been a few months since someone has reported him for domestic violence? While me and likely all his victim survivors endure some form of mental illness because of him.

31 women have been murdered this year, and there is a very real possibility, maybe not this year, but at some point, in the future, one of those victims will be at the hands of the man who took away my life, without ending my life.

There isn't a quick fix, it's an issue that must be tackled at all angles, but the glaringly obvious first step is to stop letting these monsters out on bail.

If this has raised 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.

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a Queensland-based organisation that helps women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence. If you would like to support their mission to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most, you can donate here.

Feature Image: Canva.

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