Here are some stories from the courageous women who have survived domestic violence.
Mia - ACT
When I met my husband, I knew he had grown up with abuse.
He had addictions including addiction to sex. I thought if I loved him enough I could help him heal and change him.
He constantly accused me of cheating on him. Checking my phone and movements. He verbally abused me, calling me names, spitting at me. I tried to love him more to help with his insecurities and be the perfect wife.
He missed the birth of our first son because he was with another woman.
Numerous affairs later, I found out my husband had re mortgaged the house to pay for his secret life.
My children and I ended up moving into a hostel, whilst he continued to move from one relationship to the next.
John was my first love and we got engaged at 16. Everything was good until I had my first child at 19.
My sons birth was complicated and I was in hospital for a few weeks after. I struggled being a new mum.
The first time John was violent was when I was getting ready to go to a Christmas party. He complained that I was taking long to get ready and that the house was a mess. He said that I had let myself go.
From then it continued. A push then a shove, to a slap to a punch. He never did anything in front of the children.
To be honest the bumps and bruises were nothing compared to the emotional abuse and threats. I became a nervous wreck. He broke me down until I didn’t feel I was worth anything.
It got to the stage that I didn’t think I could survive without him.
The turning point came when he kneed me so hard in the stomach that I wet myself. He laughed at me and ridiculed me.
I took the kids and went to a B&B.
I still feel like I am nothing. Everyday is a struggle, juggling bills and trying to live on a pension. I am unable to work with 2 young children, have no qualifications. I need to feel worthwhile again.
Tracy - NSW
I lived in a violent marriage for years. I was verbally abused, pushed and slapped.
I lived in a violent marriage for years. I was verbally abused, pushed and slapped. I never had any bruises or serious injuries so I did not realize I was really being abused.
To everyone else he was a strong, kind dependent family man and I was a neurotic, anxious wife. How did he put up with me?
One day my eldest son asked me why I let his dad treat me like this. He told me his friends dads did not behave in this way. I thought this behaviour was normal and my stupidity made him angry and act in this way.
It was only when my children left home and against my husbands wishes, I started a course in social work that I started to understand coercive control and gas lighting. I realised I had been suffering abuse for years.
My colleagues were amazing and helped me get the counseling and support that I needed. It took me years and a lot of courage.
I am now free from the relationship but carry the scars. I have no confidence and am always putting myself down.
Hopefully in the future I will learn to love and accept myself more.
We met online, I was a divorced single Mum living paycheck to paycheck.
He was a handsome business man. He took me away for romantic weekends away and showered me with gifts and flowers.
I could not believe he could be interested in me.
There were early warning signs. I caught him telling little lies about his age. He would not let me join Facebook as he said it would open the door to infidelity.
Like many abusive relationships, it progressed quickly. We moved, were engaged within 3 months and married within 6.
We moved with his job and I became very isolated.
The first time he threatened to hit me, I called the police. He went outside with them and told them I was being dramatic. He was calm and collected whilst I was traumatised and crying. Of course I looked like the hysterical one.
One police officer said to me "Get an AVO, if he didn’t hit you this time, he will next time".
I listened and left him.
Moving back to my mothers, to cramped conditions, for me and my children.
I tried to get an AVO. But was told I could not, as even though he had emotionally abused me and threatened me, I had no proof.