The following discusses domestic violence, which may be distressing for some readers.
But in this extract from his book, Impossible: My Story, the 'Black Box' singer chronicles a chapter few knew: a childhood studded with abuse, and the backstory that helped him better understand it.
I remember looking out my bedroom window. A police car was parked in the drive, sending its red and blue lights flashing over our house. There was shouting. I could see Dad struggling with the officers trying to get him into the car. Then they were gone.
I don’t know who would have called the cops. Mum maybe, if she could’ve, or my Koko [grandfather], who must have often heard the screams and crashes. It’s hard to think of any one specific time, but I just remember watching out the window as Pāpā got taken away. It happened lots of times.
He always came back. Mum always wanted him back. She’d get a bit of strength back and then it would be, "I don’t know what else to do. I’ll go back to him." He would say he’s sorry. He’d say he wouldn’t do it again.
My poor, poor mama. "Don’t go. Don’t go, hun." She’s begging my dad, trying to stop him from leaving. He’s chucking her against the wall. He’s chucking her on the floor. I’m crying. I’m so little. "Māmā, Māmā." Just a little kid, trying to hold on to Mum.
They must have been so young back then.
She didn’t know anything else. I’ll never know what it’s like to be a mother being abused. But for her, that’s the version of love she knew, and she was scared: if he left, if she left, she wasn’t going to be loved, nobody would want her. So she just stayed in it.
People so often judge these women: "You should just leave." We think we have all the answers for people in that situation, but it’s so much harder than that.
Listen: This is only one part of Stan Walker's 'impossible' story. To hear him share his experience of poverty, Australian Idol, fame, surviving cancer and more, listen to No Filter below or in your favourite podcast app.
Women like who my mum was back then have been so damaged and conditioned. That’s their normal, and they think that’s all they’re going to get. I’m just explaining it like my mum explained it to me, but I will never actually know the emotional, physical, spiritual hold that my dad had over her.