White Ribbon Domestic violence victims speak out
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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.