Talking about domestic violence in all forms isn’t easy. I’ve always wanted my page to be a place where every story can be told. So when this beautiful soul was ready to share her story (and hopefully help someone else), I was happy to use my platform to share. Please remember I didn’t write this and this isn’t about my family. Thank you ANONYMOUS for sharing.
Since we first went into lockdown in Melbourne just over 12 months ago, so much has changed. Businesses have closed, we were locked inside without socialising in person for months at a time. And the number of cases of family violence increased exponentially.
What many friends and family members don’t know is that one of those cases is my own.
Family Violence doesn’t just happen. It is usually a series of events that reach a peak until the victim either decides they will no longer live this way, or worse.
Looking back on my relationship, I can’t pinpoint one exact moment of when the abuse started. My partner was always very controlling. When it came to finances, social events, how our house looked – I didn’t have a say in anything. I couldn’t have a say in what art or photos went on the wall, what colour bedsheets I could buy, what to cook for dinner each night. Our bank accounts were always separate, I didn’t know how much he earned until we signed our mortgage papers after being together for over 12 years. Our social events were always decided if we would go by my partner, and more often than not I would attend events alone because he didn’t want to come.
There was often verbal abuse, having digs about my friends, family or employment. The emotional abuse was intertwined with everything we did and although I was always the bright, bubble and smiley person in public, my home life was a place where I would tiptoe on eggshells so as not to put him in a bad mood and I was lonely on a daily basis where I was not spoken to for days at a time because I had done ‘something’ to make him mad.
The physical abuse started when our child was only 7 weeks old. I was kicked and spat on because I asked him to bathe our child as it was 10pm at night and he didn’t want to stop playing a game on his phone. I was scared for my life and left my newborn at home and drove straight to the local police station. I didn’t realise that I was bleeding from my forearm until the officer asked me how I had hurt it. For the first time, I spoke to my parents about what had happened and how I was treated. I filed a report and had an Intervention Order (IVO) put in place for me and my baby, and the police went to my house and removed my partner from the home.
At that point, my number one priority was my child. I was trying to remain as calm as possible being a new mum, trying to breastfeed my newborn, with minimal sleep and not knowing what the future would hold. All I knew was that I wanted to give my child the best chance at growing up with a family around them, and so I chose to withdraw the IVO after 3 weeks on the basis that my partner agreed to go to counselling with me.
For the next year we attended weekly counselling sessions. It was to no avail. There was no accountability, no change, no regret and no promise to try to change behaviour. After a year, I just didn’t make another appointment. I chose to live with it. After all, I was a lucky one. I had a roof over my hear, I had started my own business so I had a little bit of money coming in, my child was growing and thriving and there was no further physical abuse. This didn’t stop the verbal abuse and threats. The threat to pour boiling coffee on me while driving down a highway while interstate with our child in the back seat; the threat to show people what I’m ‘really like’ while videoing me when I was upset and suffering depression; the constant threat to kick me out of the house and take me for everything that I have (which still confuses me as I didn’t have anything to take).
The final blow came in April 2020. Melbourne had just begun it’s first lockdown. I couldn’t imagine being stuck at home with this person for who knows how long while COVID-19 took hold of everyones’ lives. I had over $20,000 owing on my credit cards as I wasn’t given any allowance from my partner for groceries, fuel or things for our child. I had to close my business a few weeks before as the travel ban hit and my industry folded.
And then, my partner threatened to put me ‘in the ground’ in front of our 4-year-old. From the look in his eyes, I felt like he truly could.
That night, I decided no more. I was not going to continue to live my life in fear and have my child a victim of this type of behaviour. The next morning after my partner left for work and I dropped my child at kinder (when it was still open), I called a locksmith and change the locks on the house. I then went to the police and made a statement and had another IVO in place. There was no going back now. I didn’t deserve a life like this. All I’ve ever wanted is to feel loved, have someone who wants to spend time with me and enjoy my company.
The next few months were filled with worry and fear for how I would support my child and I with no money coming in and no idea how I was going to earn a living being a single parent. But things fall into place. Opportunities come out of nowhere and people are willing to take a chance on you. Family and close friends who know my story have been the most amazing support for my little family. From dropping off a bottle of wine and chocolate at my door on my first weekend away from my daughter once custody arrangements had been settled, to a caring aunt of my child helping make a Mother’s Day gift for me so that I wasn’t left empty handed, and random acts of kindness and calls to check in. Even though through those early months I didn’t have much physical support due to the COVID restrictions, just being thought about and having the phone ring was the most amazing encouragement that I needed.
I’ve worked in a crappy job for 6 months, was offered some work by friends, and even started a new small business. I’ve completed a course to start a role in a new career, something I never thought I would do. I now have enough money in the bank to be comfortable, not worrying about how to put food on the table but still sticking to a very tight budget. I’ve moved furniture around in my house, put photos up on the wall, and mended the areas that had evidence of the violence that happened in my home.
Now 12 months on, I can say that I am no longer a victim – I am a survivor. Sure, I’ve had my hard days where I didn’t want to get out of bed and just wanted to cry my eyes out. I’m a single mum in my early 30s – I didn’t think this would be on my path of life. But I now know what I am deserving of, how strong I am and that I have made the best choice for my child’s life. One day when my child enough, I’ll tell them the whole truth. And I hope I’ll be thanked for it.
If anyone reading this understands and recognises that their relationship is one of abuse – you can get help, you can get out, and you can have a better life. Make the decision now. And just do it. Your future self with thank you.
This week alone terrible acts of family violence which have resulted in death have left us heartbroken and speechless. For more information and to support please head to http://www.impactforwomen.org.au/
Thank you for reading. Love you all xoxo