The following stories are real-life cases of survivors of family and domestic violence. If you are experiencing abuse, you are not alone. There are people who can help.
Belle, age 23
We met in high school. He was handsome, smart, and popular.
Early on, we did all the normal things like going out with friends and watching movies. His family was quite well off and he spoiled me with gifts and I’d go away with them all on expensive weekend trips. I felt so privileged that someone like him would be attracted to someone like me.
He was always a bit controlling; a bit jealous. I told myself it was because he loved me. But things changed after we left school. We got our own place, I was going to Uni and he had started a trade apprenticeship – he was paying most of the bills. He became different. Stressed, anxious, irritable. He said it was the stress of the job and the long hours he was working. But he’d finish work, go for beers and sometimes not get home til after midnight. When I would want to do things on the weekend, he’d say he was too tired and as he controlled the money, it didn’t leave me much option to go out on my own – nor did I want to, we were so busy all week, I just wanted to hang out with him.
We had one car –he would take it to work. One day, he was meant to pick me up from Uni and I called him several times but there was no answer. When my study friend dropped me home, he went mental – throwing things, calling me names and accusing me of sleeping around. It was 4.00pm; he had finished work early and was already drunk.
These outbursts continued and increased in severity. They would always be followed by apology gifts and he even started to tell me that if I ever left him, he would kill himself. Then I found his stash of drugs.
I confronted him and he lost it. He grabbed my throat and squeezed until I could barely breathe. I left him that day and moved back with my parents.
Things didn’t get better immediately. He harassed me for a long time. Online, on my phone, at my parents’ house. He threatened to hurt me and my family. I eventually put a violence restraining order on him and his parents checked him in to rehab.
Looking back, I am so lucky I got out when I did. I guess the signs were all there but I was so in love, I didn’t see them. My friends did but said they were too scared or didn’t think it was their place to butt in. I wish they had– I felt so alone towards the end; maybe if I thought someone would believe me, I would’ve got out sooner.
I still have trust issues and I still see a counsellor. My self-esteem is better and I know I didn’t deserve to be treated like that – no one does. I also know that while the drugs made it worse, it is his character to dominate and control. At least now I know the signs. What to look out for.
Mark, age 20
Growing up, we copped a lot of verbal abuse from dad.
I always felt it was better that I wore it rather than mum having to. Sometimes he’d just aim at me but on his bad days, my mum and sisters would cop it too.
Dad worked hard for our family. He’d get home just before dinner every night and have his beers but he was always pissed off or stressed about something. He used work as an excuse but we all knew there was no excuse for how he acted toward us. It was a pretty depressing environment most of the time; my friends families seemed normal but i stayed close to home most of the time so not to leave mum alone with him.
I guess I struggled a bit growing up, not only because of dad’s abuse but because I knew early on that I was gay. I didn’t want to tell anyone about it because I felt ashamed and I didn’t know how they would react. So I was dealing with a lot.
I knew my Dad would be mad, he’s a total homophobe. I was always scared of what he’d do if he ever found out.
I realised as I got older that it isn’t something to be ashamed about; it’s who I am. I told my sisters and they were supportive, they said they wished I had told them sooner so I didn’t have to deal with it alone. I also told my best friend but he ended up telling everyone at school and I got teased and bullied pretty badly.
Towards the end of high school, we had to move towns because of my dad’s work so that helped a lot. I felt I could have a fresh start and I made new friends who accepted me the way I was. Once I built my confidence up a bit, and with the help of my two sisters, I told my mum. She was really supportive and told me she would always love me, no matter what – that made me feel safe.
Unfortunately, I knew the same wouldn’t be said for dad. He overheard me talking to mum and my sister one day and went off his head. He physically abused me and called me every name under the sun. He has always been a drinker and now, when he gets drunk, he makes it his regular thing to beat up on me and verbally attack me worse than before.
Mum gets so upset but he’s actually laid off abusing her so I just take it. She can’t leave him because he controls all our money and pays all the bills, and I can’t afford to move out until I finish my trade apprenticeship and get a job.
I wish he would just move. Or at least stop with the abuse.
Katie, age 14
I’m really worried about my sister’s boyfriend.
I think he’s a total psycho – she thinks I’m being a jealous bitch and trying to break them up.
He goes through her phone, checks her emails, Facebook, message Apps and text messages. He’s older than her and said that now she’s in adult relationship, he’s entitled to know what she does and who she’s friends with. Isn’t that a bit full on?
Shouldn’t he trust her enough to be friends with whoever she wants? Why does he have to know, is he going to stop her from being friends with them? Last week at a party, they had a huge fight because he said she spent too much time talking to a guy from our school. In the end, my sister got so upset, she went home and her whole night was ruined.
He’s such a jerk. Her friends said that she doesn’t hang out with them as much, but she says it’s because she’s in love and wants to spend time with him. But even when he’s playing footy or hanging out with his mates, she waits at home for him to finish.
I’m not jealous of them – of him. I love my sister and since she got together with him, she isn’t the same. She doesn’t have as much fun as she used to and even though she says she loves him, she doesn’t seem as happy.
When I get serious about a guy, I want my privacy and independence – not to hide anything from him, just because that’s my right. It’s his right too. We can have our own lives and a life together. Something just doesn’t feel right about this but what can I do if she won’t listen?