'My mother was murdered by her partner': What it's like to be abused after growing up in violence.


“From a young age I experienced domestic violence, and that violence was towards my mother on a daily basis.”

This was one of the opening statements made in the season four premiere episode of ABC’s You Can’t Ask That, spoken by a domestic abuse survivor named Libby in answer to the question “did you ever think this would happen to you?”

It’s a question put to a number of survivors in the episode, both men and women, as they share their stories of abuse, survival and answer a range of difficult questions as part of the TV series that is targeted towards asking the questions no one else wants to ask.

One woman is murdered by her current or former partner every week on average in Australia, according to research obtained by the ABC,  with intimate partner violence a leading contributor to homelessness, illness, disability and premature death for women aged 18-44.

This episode of You Can’t Ask That digs a little deeper into the stories behind these shocking statistics, empowering eight survivors of domestic and family violence to reflect on their personal experiences of living in violent, abusive and controlling relationships.

“At the age of 12 we lost our mother from being murdered by her partner,” Libby says to the camera during the episode. “He ambushed her and killed her, then took is own life as well”.

Libby said that experiencing extreme family violence from such a young age had a long-term impact on her in the years that followed and she found herself in a violent relationship too.


“It did affect my life. I just wanted love and security and trust, but unfortunately what I wished for in life did not come”.

“My mum went through it, maybe it’s what I deserved. So I just accepted it. It was 10 years in before I even considered leaving”.

In the same episode of You Can’t Ask That, a woman called Roia tells the story of how she was forced into an arranged marriage at the age of 14.

“He came to Pakistan, where I met him for the first time, got married and then we were in Australia about three days after the
wedding,” she said. “He was really nice to me during the first year of the marriage, even though he controlled every aspect of my life”.

“He started threatening to kill me and kill my children," said Roia on You Can't Ask That. Source: ABC.

As the years went on, the emotional and physical abuse escalated.

“He started threatening to kill me and kill my children. He would choke me hard enough just to scare the life out of me and make me realise he was capable of killing me”.

She escaped the relationship after her husband doused her in turpentine and set her on fire.

“I had 35% burns (over my body). If it hadn't happened I wouldn’t have met the social worker and the police, and I sure would not be sitting here today talking about it all."

This season of You Can't Ask That features episodes centred on Domestic and Family Violence, African Australians, Intersex People, Carnies & Show People, Ex-Politicians, Alcoholics, Disaster Survivors and Deaf People.

You Can't Ask That will premiere on Wednesday 3 April at 9pm on ABC and iview, with all episodes available on ABC iview after the premiere.

If this article has brought up any issues for you, or if you need assistance, you can call 1800RESPECT or visit You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit