Survivor Nicole Blachut’s letter to political leaders and community leaders about the impacts of domestic violence on victims and the need for a tougher approach towards perpetrators.
With all due respect, it’s time to stand up Australia ♥️
You weren’t there for every argument:
Every time he put his hands around her throat;
Every time they had you pushed up against a wall with a knife;
Every time you were too scared to walk into your own home not knowing what mood they were in;
You have little idea of the physical beatings, or how good we were at hiding it – but the mental and emotional I assure you, is much harder to live with – and will forever be etched into our brains. You can’t forget it, you can only learn to live with it.
Rebuilding trust, and some form of a life is hard after being a victim of domestic violence – which, your honor – should make your job easy.
When someone assaults another within a relationship no less – one person is taking advantage of another’s heart, mind and body. The offender prays on the weak, plays on your insecurities – will beat you down physical and verbally just to tear you back down quicker than they build you up. You make excuses for them, hope they will change, get better, calm down, be sorry – because they say they love you surely it’s true?
But that’s not the case, instead it gets worse, you start losing family, friends, and most of the time they don’t understand why. You withdraw from being the social butterfly you once were and turn into a hermit who only comes out into public when they are chaperoned. And that’s your life as you know it because this is one huge vicious cycle. But you are too ashamed to get help, you think it’s your fault and that you should know better because that’s what the offenders drill into you.
I would go do the shopping and I would get a barraged of messages demanding photos of where I was and what I was doing, god forbid I forget the turkey meat when I got home or else here comes another onset of verbal abuse telling me I was worthless and stupid – followed by being dragged through the house by my hair, fingers in my mouth dragging me along the ground, copping an elbow to the face, kicked in the stomach, putting his hands around my throat and waiting for me to stop moving, the rape – and let me make this perfectly clear – regardless of if you are in a relationship with an offender or not and they force themselves on you – that IS RAPE and it is NOT ok.
But the part that scared me the most, was not the day he kicked my door in and held me up with a switch blade, not the day he dragged me down into our car park basement down 3 flights of stairs, not the final day when I thought I would never walk out of my house again. But out of everything, it was the next text he would send, the contact he would make, the threats, the abuse – because back then, I didn’t know how to say no anymore, I was scared for my life, and because I didn’t know there were resources to help me, to save me. And today we are all here because we need to change that way of thinking, remove the stigma and start a dialogue.
If you haven’t been through it – you have no idea what goes through the head of someone in that situation, so don’t try to pretend you do – the amount of times I got told “why didn’t you tell someone, why didn’t you tell him to stop, why didn’t you fight back” the list goes on – but what matters is what I AM DOING TODAY.
I am starting a dialogue, I will not stop until parliament answer me, I will not stop until there is legislation in place to protect victims, show the offenders there are consequences for their actions, and severe ones at that. Not just a slap on the wrist. What about a register for all DV offenders? Better communication in place for the victim to know if offenders are being locked up or released? There is so much we need to improve and we need to start today.
Australia needs a massive wake up call. You wonder why people like Tara Brown was killed in a DV relationship? How many more deaths will it take? How many more children will lose their parents? Siblings? Teresa Bradford thought the system would protect her when she had her husband charged with assaulting and choking her. Then he was granted bail and given the opportunity to take her life. She should have been safe. She wasn’t.
Jessy Jess recently has gone through a traumatising ordeal when her ex partner belted her, put his hands around her throat (a red flag for homicidal attempts) taunted and emotionally abused her – she takes it to court, presses charges against someone so intimidating to the average person and he walks from court with a suspended sentence because “he seemed of good character” – in a court room he probably seemed like an angel because he was being reprimanded for committing a violent act on his partner at the time…behind closed doors? Would not care – he got away with it, that’s all he wanted – that’s why he showed remorse in your courtroom as he winked and smiled at the press.
My ex partner almost ended my life, physically, emotionally and mentally and the magistrate gave him 2.5 years suspended sentence…he then went and assaulted his new girlfriend 3 days after court for my assault and got only 9 months prison for assaulting her. He also has countless DVOs on him from all ex girlfriends and previous assault charges. Yet never reprimanded to the full extent of what the law SHOULD be for DV.
The police do everything they can, everything in their power, they saved my life with their perseverance, persistence and support – they fill out days of endless paperwork and document every incident and make sure the arrest is handled and the DVOs are in place and affective yet when it comes to court, because the offender seems “remorseful and of good character” it’s ok to let them walk free and not feel the gravity of the situation? This is what causes reoffending.
Once again, if it was your family – what would you do?
Let’s put laws in place with the respective consequences to domestic violence – open communication so the victims are protected and so if the offender is incarcerated then the first victim can know when the offender will be released so that they have all security in place In case the offender attempts to reoffend.
With all due respect – a DVO is simply a piece of paper in the offenders eyes, it’s perceived as this because it’s how the courts treat it when dealing with these cases. I can say this because I’ve been there, I’ve seen it first hand. The offender shows remorse – because he or she got caught – because they don’t want prison time so they sit there and plead and beg they won’t do it again and learnt their lesson…yet re offend time and time again. And yet as the victim you sit there, losing a little more hope every day, waiting for that person to walk through your door and just end your life because nothing more can be done.
It took over 12 months for my ex to be prosecuted, 12 months of him breaching his DVO, trying to still control me, threaten to kill me, destroy me – it’s no wonder people give up. But I’m asking you to re evaluate the process, the prosecutions and the outcomes. Keep. Your family safe. Only 30% of DV cases are reported so what’s to say it’s NOT your family being affected? Stand up and speak out, there is no excuse for domestic abuse! I’m calling the government and head magistrates of Australia to listen to us, to talk to us and do something and be proactive and take action!
Lastly, I need to say thank you – to the staff at Gold Coast Hospital that didn’t judge me, Southport Police who always supported me and never pressured me – especially Nathan Starkey – head of CIB and Darren Mcotter and Kate Turnball for all the support they offered and never giving up on me. Its time remove the stigma – its time to break the silence on domestic violence! Have the courage to speak up Australia!
You can sign Nicole’s petition for harsher domestic violence penalties here: https://www.change.org/p/prime-minister-there-is-no-excuse-for-domestic-abuse-harsher-laws
If you are in domestic violence crisis help is available from the Australia-wide telephone hotline . If you want to take part in the “Why I Stayed” project click here ♥️♥️♥️
Photograph by Sherele Moody © 2017.