White Rib­bon Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tims speak out

Next N week’s k’ Whi White Rib­bon Ribb Day D aims i to bring b i aware­ness to vi­o­lence against women so we can take steps to­wards its preven­tion

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

ZAHRA ABRAHIMZADEH ‘We don’t want Mum’s death to be in vain’

Devoted mother-of-three Zahra Abrahimzadeh raised her chil­dren in a house­hold of ex­treme do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

It ended in 2010 in her bru­tal mur­der at the hands of her hus­band Ziaolleh, who stabbed her mul­ti­ple times in front of hun­dreds of hor­ri­fied on­look­ers at a New Year’s Eve event.

It came af­ter Zahra, who moved with her hus­band and chil­dren to South Aus­tralia from Iran in 1997, fled the fam­ily home with her chil­dren a year ear­lier in a bid to es­cape the hor­ror they faced ev­ery day.

“She was our mother, she was our father – my dad wasn’t much of a fam­ily man so he wasn’t around much – mum had to play both roles,” her son Ar­man, 30, tells Wo­man’s Day.

“She made many sac­ri­fices for her chil­dren – she al­ways looked at the brighter side of things.”

Zahra’s mur­der was the ul­ti­mate act of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence from a hus­band who had abused his wife and his chil­dren Ar­man, and daugh­ters Atena, 31, and Anita, 20, for decades, sub­ject­ing them to a fam­ily home full of ter­ror and pain.

Now, Ar­man and his sis­ters are pas­sion­ate about rais­ing aware­ness of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence through the Zahra Foun­da­tion Aus­tralia, named in mem­ory of their beau­ti­ful mother.

“Mum was our rock. She was such a great role model for us,” Ar­man says. “We set up the foun­da­tion to help those in the same sit­u­a­tion we were in when we fled our home.

“Zahra Foun­da­tion is also for ev­ery other wo­man go­ing through sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Look­ing back, Ar­man can see how de­struc­tive his fam­ily life was, but at the time he and his sis­ters didn’t re­alise how bad things re­ally were.

“We thought our fam­ily was nor­mal – things weren’t bad all the time. We had out­ings and went

to cul­tural gath­er­ings and par­ties. We did all the things ‘nor­mal’ fam­i­lies do,” he says.

“But when I look back know­ing what I know now, we ex­pe­ri­enced ev­ery el­e­ment in the do­mes­tic vi­o­lence spec­trum. It was anything and ev­ery­thing, from ma­nip­u­la­tive and con­trol­ling be­hav­iour, fi­nan­cial abuse and con­trol, emo­tional abuse, psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse, phys­i­cal abuse and threats, right through to the very peak of the spec­trum, which is tak­ing some­one’s life – mur­der.”

Ar­man’s tire­less work for the foun­da­tion saw him re­ceive the Young South Aus­tralian of the Year Award last year.

Atena (left), Ar­man and Anita are cam­paign­ing to put a stop to the se­ri­ous prob­lem of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. Ziaolleh Abrahimzadeh (be­low) is serv­ing a 26-year jail term for Zahra’s mur­der.

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