Domestic violence recovery is possible. Domestic violence is a scourge on our nation. Not only is there major trauma while it is occurring, but the recovery from domestic violence can be a massive challenge as well. Some of those that have the best advice are those who have been there before – and there are many women who have been there before.
Domestic Violence Recovery: The Numbers Don’t Lie
The raw statistics suggest that one in three women experiences violence. Almost every week in Australia a woman is killed by her former or current partner. Although physical violence can be more obvious, domestic violence can also include sexual abuse, emotional and/or verbal abuse, as well as threatening or controlling behaviour. Often domestic violence victims experience some or all of the different types of abuse. Whether the abuse is physical or emotional, the journey to freedom and healing can be a very hard one. We can all play a part in helping others in their domestic violence recovery.
Many Victims – Many Stories
Australian police deal with 5,000 domestic violence matters on average every week. That’s one every two minutes. These figures are based on data provided by police services around the country about how often their officers respond to domestic violence cases. This means that there are probably many more cases that don’t get a police call-out. Yvonne’s story is one like that.
Yvonne, now a grown woman, says:
I WAS only four years old, yet I still recall that day vividly. Mum told me to pack a few toys into my little suitcase.
She picked me and my sister up, and we left our house with only the $20 she had for a taxi. As we drove away, my father chased us down the street in a drunken rage. I remember he threw a milk carton after us. I can still see the milk spill out onto the road.
The violence didn’t stop immediately. My father would occasionally find us and attack my mum. When I was five, she married David, a wonderful man who is my dad in every way. The day David confronted my father was the day he finally left us alone.
Growing up like that changes you. I had seen my mum brutalised on a daily basis, and I had been this tiny little thing trying to stop my father hurting her.
Yvonne is now the chairperson of a board that last year opened a refuge for women and children fleeing domestic violence, called The Sanctuary, in north-west Sydney. One afternoon the shelter manager rang Yvonne. She said, “We have our first woman coming in. I know your story – I know your mother was 17 when she had you. I’m going to talk, because if you talk, I’ll cry. And if you cry, I’ll cry. And I need to remain calm. Yvonne, she’s 17 and she has a six-week-old baby. Congratulations, you just saved your mother.”
Yvonne said, “This was the most full-circle moment of my life. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me. I cried for six hours.”
Using Bad Experiences For Domestic Violence Recovery
Bernadette, who left her abuser after she was beaten while she was heavily pregnant, said she has undergone years of counselling to come to terms with the abuse she faced. She left not wanting to be the next domestic violence homicide statistic. He continued to harass her for 16 years after she left him. The fallout from the continued harassment pushed her daughter to attempt suicide.
Bernadette said she has undergone years of counselling to come to terms with the abuse she faced. The thought of Bernadette’s abusive partner still lingers in her mind, but she has now found a way to deal with her trauma and help others with theirs. She now runs a Facebook group for victims of domestic violence which she claims has helped save the lives of at least eight people who found themselves in violent situations or tried to take their own lives. “A lot of people out there are having a hard time, wanting to escape but not knowing how. . . Some don’t even recognise what they are going through as abuse and need some clarification,” she says.
Domestic Violence Recovery is One Step at a Time
Domestic violence advocacy group White Ribbon said it is not uncommon for women to have difficulty recognising different forms of abuse, making leaving even more difficult. But when they do leave the road can be hard. To help make the journey a little easier, Yvonne suggests these tips in helping to recover from trauma:
1. Ventilate. When you tell others what you’re going through, you let in light.
2. See setbacks as “disastertunities”. Look for ways to trade out, and move on.
3. Choose people who make you laugh. When I met my husband, I heard my own laugh for the first time in my life.
Domestic violence recovery can take a long while, but with time and good support many victims are able to ‘let in the light’ once again. Many also use their experiences and tell their stories so that others can learn from them both in helping other victims to break free and for community awareness to increase. Yvonne and Bernadette are some of those brave women and there are many more who are actively involved in helping other victims to find refuge and to move on from their oppression.
At Divorce Lawyers Brisbane we advocate for victims of family violence. To speak to one of our experienced and compassionate family lawyers please contact us today for a FREE, 10-minute consultation.