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General News

15 May, 2024

Free to Read

How my world was turned upside down

I met Jack* through my work and he acted specifically and tirelessly to get my attention.

By Wimmera Mallee News

April* and her children. Photo: Brittney Carter
April* and her children. Photo: Brittney Carter

I met Jack* through my work and he acted specifically and tirelessly to get my attention.

All the girls would giggle about how he had a crush on me.

I eventually gave in to his advances and, at the time, thought I had fallen in love extremely quickly with a man who was everything I had wanted: caring, funny, kind and with a big enthusiasm for life like mine.

I was in my early 20s and growing up in a country town I hadn’t had a lot of exposure to life, or men.

I can’t remember when the abuse first started or what the first instance was.

Part of me thinks it’s my brain blocking it out, attempting to hide the trauma, but then there are other instances when I thought I was going to die that I can clearly recall as if it was yesterday.

The abuse I was subjected to wasn’t just physical.

In fact, the physical side was less prevalent than other types.

But the emotional, financial and verbal abuse was frequent, and it was these types of domestic violence that left the biggest scars - scars that still intermittently show today.

One of the biggest things I have had to learn to deal with in my healing journey, is how others turned a blind eye to the behaviour.

Although not many people did witness it, his family, in particular, didn’t want to help.

I recall running to his mum one time after he had attacked me physically, only to be told, as my partner, he was my problem now, not hers.

When I begged him to change, to get help, Jack’s responses were always either that he didn’t need to, I made him act like he did, or that he would get help.

He never did, even despite the fact that along the way we had a family.

Bruises healed, lumps subsided, fittings and fixtures in the house could be repaired from Jack’s abuse, but it was the emotional and verbal abuse particularly that were the hardest.

The behaviour was used to control, intimidate and manipulate me and then there was the abuse verbally; making me feel like the dumbest, worthless person in the world that would never achieve anything or that no-one could possibly like.

If I left him, he said, I wouldn’t be able to give our children the life they deserved and I would fail miserably.

It was enough to keep me around longer than I should have.

Despite what was happening behind closed doors, I would plaster a smile on my face in public and I’d reassure my family and close friends that I was okay, only turning to a couple of them when things got bad and the children and I needed rescuing.

It was at least a couple of times I called the police for help, and he was held in the cells for the night.

With a promise he would change, or get help, I didn’t pursue charges and would continue my life, balancing on eggshells.

We had children together and, for me, they were my breaking point. They were the reason I left the relationship.

The desire and necessity to give them a better life is what it came down to, and one day,

...as one of the children stood between me and their father, screeching at him not to call his mum those names, or throw things at me, I knew I had to get out.

I’d been seeing a counsellor for months at this point, and it just clicked.

I was determined to show him I could do it by myself, and the children would have a happy home - and most importantly be safe.

A further intervention order was put in place. I’m not going to say it was easier immediately, but it was the best decision, and one that I don’t regret.

I don’t regret our relationship either - he gave me my children and they are my world.

But, as I discussed with my domestic violence counsellor recently, Jack also tried to destroy me.

Thankfully, he failed.

Instead, he created a woman who, yes, is a victim, but is also a survivor, and because of that is determined, strong and unbreakable in many ways.

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If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s behaviour, support services are available. 

If someone close to you discloses they are a victim of family violence, please believe them and encourage them to contact police or a support service.

  • 1800 Respect National Helpline on 1800 737 732

  • Lifeline on 131 114

  • DVConnect Women's line on 1800 811 811

  • Full Stop Australia on 1800 385 578

  • No to Violence runs a service which helps men who use violence to change their behaviour: 1300 766 491

  • Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 or by email to safesteps@safesteps.org.au

Victoria Police advises if you can’t get to a phone, ask someone else to do it for you.

If you would like to share your story through our newspapers, you can reach out to reporter Zoey Andrews by emailing zoey@wmnews.com.au

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