This post deals with domestic violence and mental health and might be triggering for some readers. Some details have been changed in the story for privacy reasons.
In the middle of the night in February 2020, Rachel* woke up her three children and put them in the car.
She had just been involved in a domestic violence incident after her emotionally abusive relationship came to a head.
"Daddy hit Mummy and we have to leave," she explained to her kids.
She left without grabbing most of her belongings and drove to her parents' house. She hasn't been back home since.
Women and violence: The hidden numbers. Post continues below.
Earlier that night, Rachel had called the police after the violent incident with her ex-husband.
"[The police] arrested him and told me they were going to hold him overnight," Rachel told Mamamia.
"Then they let him go."
After leaving the police station, her ex-husband, who she had recently separated from, ended up returning to the house where Rachel and her kids were staying.
"I was terrified, terrified," she shared.
Rachel was given a direct number to call the police. But when she called, they explained he was allowed to return home as he lived in the residence too.
It wasn't until two days later when she was filling out paperwork that she was told this should never have happened.
That night wasn't the first time Rachel had thought about leaving. But her children and hopes that the relationship would improve stopped her from walking away earlier.
"People have said to me, 'Why didn't you go earlier?' The relationship that we were in, you think it will get better or we will try this and try that. We also had a good social life with our friends and family and I knew that would change."