Content warning: This post deals with domestic violence and sexual assault, and may be triggering for some readers.
In September 2012, Simone O’Brien had a “gut feeling” she needed to leave her relationship.
From the exterior, she and her partner Glenn Cable were happy, but mounting lies, missing money, and an unshakable sense that something wasn’t right led the mother-of-three to try to break things off.
Within half an hour of calling Cable at 6.06pm on September 25 to tell him their relationship was over, O’Brien was in an ambulance — called by her teenage daughter — with an arm broken in two places and her face so badly smashed, she is now permanently blind in one eye.
Cable, who has since received a life sentence for attempted murder, had “snapped” and come to her house armed with a baseball bat.
Four years later, O’Brien is still recovering, but it was a conversation with a friend that made her first realise she was in trouble.
O'Brien is among the one in four Australian women who will be victims of domestic violence or sexual assault in their lifetime. And more of them than ever before are reaching out for help -- before it is too late.
In 2010, the Federal Government created the 1800RESPECT hotline, a national counselling service for women and men affected by family and sexual violence.
It's always been contracted to Medibank Health Solutions (MHS) -- privatised since November 2014 -- but calls are answered by a team of highly specialised counsellors from Rape and Domestic Violence Australia (RDVSA).
Between 2011 and 2016, the number of calls and emails to 1800RESPECT nearly tripled, thanks in part to a long overdue, growing national focus on ending violence against women.