real life

'As I tried to leave my abusive partner, I discovered multiple women had AVOs against him.'

This story discusses domestic abuse. 

I can just imagine his response to all the news and community outrage about the recent deaths of women to domestic violence. "She must have been being a bitch, or (insert whatever profanity you could call a woman), she most likely deserved it." 

This is a glimpse into the mind of a perpetrator and what I would hear from my former partner when news broke about women who had been violently killed by their partners or ex-partners. 

I was hearing this from the man I'd chosen to spend my life with, the father of my children, whose controlling behaviour I had mistaken for love. Because love all I was looking for and wanting when I met him. 

After years of abuse and even threats to kill me if I cheated on him, I finally came to the conclusion that if I didn't leave him, he could really hurt or kill me one day. I began to fear for my life. 

So I made a plan to leave. This involved engaging a caseworker 'behind his back' because that was the only 'safe' way - I'm still not sure how I managed to pull this off. But I was desperate. To leave a situation that my instincts told me may not be safe for me and my children, I just knew I had to.

In the process of putting a plan together for my escape, my caseworker ended up finding out and my ex-partner had multiple previous intervention orders with previous partners. Having endured all I had, I was not surprised to learn this. I recall him describing how he had used technology to monitor one of his ex-girlfriends to find out whether she was cheating on him. 

As I started to plan how I could leave, I wondered how helpful it would have been to know this when I had first met him. Why wasn't there something like a domestic violence offender register to keep women safe? If there had been, I never would have engaged with him in the beginning.  


I wondered how he was able to get away with this time and time again.

Watch: Coercive control. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Leading up to my decision to leave him, I thought I would try to report some of the DV incidents to police, so that at least they had a record of these if the time came that I had to make a call on him. When I went to the police station to do this, I was told that I couldn't report an incident if the police hadn't attended. 

I was also told that unless I came in with bruises, they couldn't do anything. I couldn't believe my ears. 

I realised that the safest way for me to leave was to call the police when something happened. On the day I made that call, he was served with an intervention order. 

Escaping, I felt like one of the lucky ones - yet it wasn't long before my ex breached the order I had taken out against him. 

His punishment? He was slapped with a fine. Luckily for me, that seemed to be enough to stop him from further breaching the order. But I know for other women this has not been the case. 

Just because I'm alive, the fear doesn’t end.

I feel like he forever blames me for our separation, and I worry about the future repercussions this might have. 


Even after women like me leave such dire situations, we are left to deal with ongoing impacts that make our life difficult. In my case, this has included encountering judgement from others, and the fear of re-partnering for how he will react, which means I face a life of being alone. I have been so scared of re-partnering as I also just cannot risk experiencing what I went through again. I just want peace and for me, that means not getting involved with anyone. 

All I want is for me and my family to be safe and happy, and yet women like me are continually asked, "Why did you stay?" Evidently, it's not that simple and according to experts, the most dangerous time is when a woman is planning to leave or has just left her partner. 

Perhaps if there was a domestic violence offender register would save lives and prevent others from living in fear. 

I'm aware that some offenders don't have any history of offending. Clearly, it's not a simple solution, but something has to be done. 

Feature Image: Canva.

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. 

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