Find­ing a bet­ter place

Cockburn Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Leah Roberts

NO­BODY knows what hap­pens be­hind closed doors, ac­cord­ing to a woman who left an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship and lived in a Fre­man­tle women’s refuge for three months.

The woman, who did not want to be iden­ti­fied, said she left her hus­band of 15 years af­ter a phys­i­cal in­ci­dent.

“There was fi­nan­cial and emo­tional abuse and the phys­i­cal in­ci­dent was the last straw for me,” she said.

“On the out­side he was one per­son, but be­hind closed doors he changed; he was nar­cis­sis­tic and con­trol­ling.

“He is vin­dic­tive now that I’ve left and has made false ac­cu­sa­tions to make him­self look like the in­no­cent one.

“I thought I was go­ing crazy. He made me think there were cam­eras in the house and that he watched my ev­ery move. It was all mind games.”

The do­mes­tic vi­o­lence sur­vivor said hav­ing lived through years of emo­tional abuse, she did not recog­nise the signs.

It was only af­ter leav­ing the re­la­tion­ship she started to have “light bulb mo­ments” that what she had ex­pe­ri­enced was “abu­sive be­hav­iour”.

“I was told I was good for noth­ing, that I was fat, that I wasn’t a good mum,” she said.

“I lost four friends. When you go through this you lose more than just your friends or fam­ily, you lose your­self.”

The mother-of-three said fol­low­ing sev­eral at­tempts to leave the re­la­tion­ship she fi­nally got the courage to go to the po­lice and leave for good last year.

“I had left be­fore but only for a cou­ple of hours and once overnight, but I came back,” she said.

“I went to the po­lice to let them know that a phys­i­cal in­ci­dent took place but I didn’t want him charged at the time.

“I didn’t want him to lose his busi­ness but look­ing back I wish I did do it.

“For a month I was slowly pack­ing stuff to go, get­ting birth cer­tifi­cates, iPads and crayons for the kids.

“The po­lice passed me on to the women from the Fam­ily and Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Re­sponse Team.

“They gave me op­tions and the day be­fore I left I called them, un­sure of what I was go­ing to do, and they sup­ported me.

“The women and the refuges have been fan­tas­tic. They never judged me, they treated me like an or­di­nary mum of three and let me talk when­ever I needed.”

Af­ter liv­ing in the Fre­man­tle War­rawee Refuge for three months last year, she said she was now in a bet­ter place but more fund­ing was needed for sur­vivors of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

“More fund­ing is needed for refuges be­cause they are so im­por­tant,” she said.

“I am grate­ful that I have a roof over my head and there is laugh­ter again in my house.”

One in six woman (1.6 mil­lion) have ex­pe­ri­enced phys­i­cal and/or sex­ual vi­o­lence by a co­hab­it­ing part­ner af­ter turn­ing 15. Source: Fam­ily, do­mes­tic and sex­ual vi­o­lence in Aus­tralia, 2018.

Nearly 2.1 mil­lion men and women have seen vi­o­lence to­wards their mother by a part­ner Source: Fam­ily, do­mes­tic and sex­ual vi­o­lence in Aus­tralia, 2018.

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