Call 1800 RESPECT

This is Lauren’s Story ♥️

“The physical abuse escalated slowly. He started off by pushing and shoving me. He thought nothing of shoving me into a wall or pushing me so I would fall backwards onto the bed. He would grab my ears and twist them until they were swollen and purple”. Domestic violence survivor Lauren.

Lauren hopes her story will break the silence about violence in lesbian relationships ♥️

I dreamed of picket fences and Princess Charmings…

lauren-the-red-heart-campaign_1My name is Lauren. I am 33 years old and I am a survivor. Growing up I was a bookworm. I liked old fashioned books such as Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon. They were about spirited and creative women who none the less weren’t complete or living a truly full life until they had been swept off their feet by the stereotypical tall, dark and handsome man, gotten married and had a litter of children.

This was a message I internalised. I genuinely believed that this was what women were meant to grow up and do. When I pictured what my life would be like when I was an adult I imagined a life like the one my parents and story book heroines had. I would have a house in the suburbs, a husband and a few picture perfect children, living the middle class cliché.  When I was 12 a slight crack appeared in the so called normal life I had imagined for myself. I was going to a different high school to most of my friends.

I can remember lying in bed one night and crying my eyes out, it was the type of crying where you are curled up in a ball and are hugging the pillow as though it is a life preserver,  all because I wouldn’t be able to see one of my best friends every day.

That night I had a moment of clarity. I realised that the way I felt about my friend was different from the way that most girls did. I went into immediate denial and started praying to God that I wasn’t gay. I couldn’t be.

I had never met a lesbian and in my mind they had short hair and looked and dressed like men. I was nothing like that. I tried to push the thought to the back of my mind and it became really important to me that I have a boyfriend. I wanted to be ‘normal’, to appear like everyone else. I was so desperate for love and approval that I would date anyone who showed the slightest bit of interest in me.

Despite this, rumours about my sexuality circulated around my school. I had always felt alienated and like I didn’t fit in with my peers and after being ridiculed I closed off completely and started skipping school. I used to sit in class afraid of opening my mouth and contributing to class discussions because I was so afraid of rejection and being laughed at.

I hoped being with a man would turn me straight…

I was 15 years old when I met my first boyfriend. His name was Darren and a friend introduced us. We met at a movie marathon. He wasn’t very smart, we had no common interests. I wasn’t even slightly attracted to him but I was so desperate to be liked and accepted that I convinced myself that I loved him. I was pretty good at self delusion back then.

If I told myself something often enough I believed that it had to eventually become a reality. Things were never really good between us. We had nothing to talk about. We never went on dates because he was saving to buy a car. He was a compulsive liar. He lied to me about going to school and his age for over six months. He lied about his family, stupid things I’m sure he just made up to entertain himself.

I put up with it all because I looked ‘normal.’ I had a boyfriend whose jumper I wore to school in winter and whose name I could write on my school diary. I used to talk about him like he was the love of my life when in reality I was just a baby and I felt nothing romantic towards him. Despite this I stayed with him for 18 months. It stopped the questions, for a while at least. I hadn’t been sexually active until I met him. I had kissed boys but that was as far as I had ever gone.

He started pressuring me for sex almost from day one and made it clear that he wouldn’t wear a condom when we did eventually sleep together despite me saying I wasn’t comfortable doing anything without one.  Before I slept with him he used to brutally assault my body until I bled. I would just lie there and take it because I thought that that was what a relationship was like. I was still desperately hoping to be magically become straight and hoped to feel something other than pain. I never did.

I was very uninterested in sex with him although I pretended to my friends that I was. It bothered him because while I spent time with him I was never mentally there and was uninterested in the mauling and groping he thought he was entitled to. He found a way around that. He introduced me to pot. I loved it because it allowed me to block out everything about myself and my life that I didn’t like. It also meant I was so out of it that he could do whatever he wanted to do to me without me putting up a fight.

He would sit me on his lap, propping me up with one arm while taking me clothes off and touching me with the other. He didn’t try to be gentle. He didn’t care that I could barely hold my head up. I was his plaything. I hated what he did to me. I hated myself for letting him do it but I loved the oblivion marijuana brought so I gritted my teeth and kept going back. I was convinced there was something wrong with me, that I was dirty and disgusting and that eventually my so far invisible taint would become apparent to those around me.

I will never forget that dead look in his eyes as he raped me…

I was almost 17 when he raped me. I had gone over to his house to watch a movie. I didn’t know that no one else was home. We sat in his room and put the TV on. After a few minutes he climbed on top of me and started probing my unenthusiastic mouth with his vile tongue. I tried to push him off me. I said I wanted to watch the move. He ignored me and pulled my pants down. I looked up at him and his eyes were dead. I knew he didn’t see me anymore. I wasn’t Lauren. I was a thing to be used for his sexual gratification.

I asked him to stop but he held me down and kept going until he was finished, Afterwards he cried and said “I shouldn’t have done that.’ I was terrified of what he would do to me if I cried or showed my fear so I comforted him, all the while hating myself. I then went home, pasted on a plastic smile and pretended that nothing was wrong. After the rape I felt completely out of control and like my body wasn’t my own.

I felt powerless and wanted to take my power back. My way of doing this was to have a series of one night stands. I felt I was using my body on my own terms rather than being used. I didn’t hide what I was doing and was loudly condemned by the hypocrites I went to school with. It was a very dark time during my life. I told my best friend at the time what had happened with my boyfriend. She had known him longer than I had and had actually been the one who had introduced us. She didn’t believe me.

She thought I was a slut and a liar and our friendship effectively ended.   I was too scared to end things with him so I spent several months avoiding him. He got fed up with this pretty quickly and ended up waiting for me after I finished school one day and pulling me into his car. He didn’t say anything, just drove fast and erratically while blasting Tainted Love from the radio. He dropped me home without incident. He lived near me and used to sit in the park across the road watching to see when I left the house.

I was hyper vigilant but one day I didn’t see him. I was walking my dog and he cornered me and said “I heard you’ve been telling people I raped you.” There was no one else around and I was shaking and terrified. I stuttered out a denial and ran home. That was the last time I saw him. I got the courage to break up with him a few weeks later. He bothered me for years after. He found out where I worked and would wait outside. I used to ask to be walked to the train station. He would call my house demanding my parents tell him where I was. They eventually changed the number. The really scary thing is that he was only six months older than me. I hate to think of what he is capable of now.

I felt dirty, worthless and broken inside…

I felt like I was dirty, worthless and broken inside but I met someone, Xavier, who was the opposite of him. I was able to talk to him. He was gentle and made me feel safe. He didn’t try to touch me and allowed me to spend hours talking and crying but most importantly, he believed me. He supported me. He made me feel I was worth something and he kept my secrets.

He kept me sane and stopped me from heading down a dark path, that of drugs, alcohol and letting myself be used and abused by whoever wanted me at the time. He saved my life and I will never forget that or stop being grateful for what he did. My bad taste in men continued. When I was 19 years old I met Kevin. He was three years older than me and we were in the same course at TAFE. We were studying a Diploma of Community Services. I was a huge bleeding heart. I still am. I wanted to save everyone who was hurting and in pain.

I wanted to change the world, to make it a better place. I assumed that the other people in the course would be like minded and have the same ideals and aspirations. I was probably right for the most part but Kevin’s motivation was completely different. He was charismatic and a smooth talker and had talked himself into a peer worker job at a now defunct organisation. The idea was that he and other peer workers would go to concerts and festivals and try to educate people on drugs and how to use them safely if that was their intention.

Kevin merely saw it as a way to get into concerts etc for free and was doing the diploma as the organisation he worked for had asked him to as he had no formal qualifications. I saw him when I was out and he was ‘working’ a few times and we began talking and sitting together at TAFE. He had no interest in the course content and I was easily distracted by this seemingly charming and worldly man giving me all of his attention and wanting to spend all his time with me. Things moved quickly with us. He had an apartment and suggested I stay over during the week as it was closer to TAFE. I did but he always had a reason not to go.

We both ended up dropping out after a few weeks and spending our wasted days together. He told me he loved me after three weeks. He wanted to be with me all the time. In hindsight this is a flashing neon sign that he was controlling but in the beginning it made me feel special. He talked about wanting to marry me after the first month. I couldn’t believe someone loved me so much that they wanted to spend the rest of their life with me. I didn’t realise that to him putting a ring on my finger meant he both owned and controlled me.

A new home, a new life, a new man and a new kind of terror…

We got together in March and my birthday is in April. My mother threw me a birthday party and after a few hours he insisted we leave and go back to his place. He didn’t have a reason, he simply said he didn’t like being around my family.  When we first got together he would do sweet things. He made me mix CDs, got me teddy bears, he did all the things that make teenage girls melt. I had come to accept myself a little bit more and identified as bisexual.

I can clearly remember having a conversation with him when we first got together. He told me I wasn’t bisexual, that I was straight because I had a boyfriend. I tried explaining to him that it didn’t work like that but he wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say. He proposed after we had been together for six weeks, fittingly next to a rubbish bin. My gut reaction was to say no. We hadn’t been together for long, we didn’t know each other very well but at the same time I didn’t want to lose him and I knew I would if I said no. I said yes and very quickly came to regret it. He asked me to move in with him as soon as he had put that horrible little ring on my finger. I said yes thinking I would move into the apartment he lived in. I was wrong.

He wanted us to get our own place which naïve me thought was sweet. We moved into a small townhouse together. All this happened over a period of a few months. My parents were concerned that things had moved so quickly between us but I was young and dumb and thought I knew everything. I neglected my friendships as I was spending all my time with Kevin. Every time I made plans with family or friends he would get sick and need me to look after him.

My friends quickly got sick of my cancelling and excuses and I became isolated very quickly. It didn’t help that Kevin hated all of my friends without exception as it meant the spotlight wasn’t on him. He dragged me out as one of my friends being proposed to as his boyfriend and he decided that it was was taking too long. Kevin and I were doing nothing with our days and as a consequence we were usually broke. After talking we decided that I would go back to TAFE and he would get a job.

He did, very quickly and amazingly, considering the tantrums he threw in the workplace, he kept it. That was when things really began to change. He expected me to have all the housework done by the time he got home from work. If I didn’t do it, it didn’t get done. He wouldn’t let me use the internet. Once I downloaded some music and he deleted it as I didn’t have his permission. He would read my journal and monitor my phone calls. He would go out of his way to cause conflict between my family and I. He didn’t want me to have a relationship with them.

Isolation, intimidation and beatings became my normal…

The abuse started slowly. He would misplace paperwork and fly into a rage calling me a brainless bitch. He said that in front of his mother who didn’t bat an eyelid. He used to like to start arguments with me when we were lying in bed. It got to the point where I dreaded night time. I would stay awake until 3am so that I knew he would be asleep and then creep into bed trying not to move the covers or mattress as disturbing him would have unleashed a torrent of abuse. He was verbally abusive.

He used to tell me that I was a piece of shit. I was worthless, no one else would ever want me and that I was lucky that I had him. He thought nothing of putting me down in front of his friends and family. We lived in a townhouse and when he had friends over I wasn’t allowed to go upstairs. He used to go out without me with other girls. I went through his phone once and found out that he had asked a girl he worked with on a date and was still in contact with his ex girlfriend.

When I confronted him he went ballistic at me for looking at his phone and offered no explanation as to why he had been trying to cheat on me. If I went out, even to see my parents, he would throw my things in the bin. The physical abuse escalated slowly. He started off by pushing and shoving me. He thought nothing of shoving me into a wall or pushing me so I would fall backwards onto the bed. He would grab my ears and twist them until they were swollen and purple.

I called my mother in tears once after we had a fight. My parents both came over and my Dad said he was going to kill him. The situation escalated even though they left fairly quickly because I was hysterical and begged them to. Kevin spent the night throwing things and punching the wall. By this stage I wasn’t always allowed to sleep in the bed. It depended on how he was feeling at the time. I spent a lot of nights on the couch, or he would wake me in the middle of the night and order me out because he didn’t want me near him any more.

The morning after my parents came round he woke me, dragged me off the couch by my hair and shoved me into the hallway wall. He put his arm across my throat, pinning me, leaned in close and hissed in my ear that I had two weeks to say goodbye to my father and brother and then he was going to kill them in front of me. This was a threat he often repeated.

A few days later he decided that he was going to get a restraining order against my Dad as Dad had said “I’m going to kill you” when my parents had come over during our fight. Every time he tried to call a lawyer I pulled the phone cord out so that the call didn’t go through. He flew into an instant rage. He came out and dragged me by the hair to the couch. He threw the couch cushions off and began smashing my head onto the metal sofa bed underneath. I refused to let him see me cry so he dragged me up and started slamming my head into the wall while holding my arm in a vice-like grip.

Spending time with my family became a living nightmare…

His father had supposedly hit his mother and despite what he was doing I was determined not to let him know he was getting to me. I screamed “You’re just like your father” and he let me go and went into the bathroom. I had a giant egg on the back of my head. I had bruises forming and was missing chunks of hair but I blamed myself for what he had done. I thought if I hadn’t pulled the phone cord out it wouldn’t have happened.

I knocked on the bathroom door, pushing down my instinct to run outside and bang on my neighbours door asking for help and he answered after a few minutes. He had made extremely shallow cuts on his wrist because I had compared him to his father. I spent the afternoon comforting him while the egg on my head tripled in size. After we had been together for about a year my mother booked a family holiday. We were going to stay on the coast for two weeks.

I asked Kevin if I could go and he said it was fine.  The week before I was meant to go he denied that I had told him about the holiday and told me I couldn’t go. He eventually decided I could go for one week but again, the day before I was meant to go he changed his mind.  I had my mother yelling at me for ruining the holiday and Kevin telling me that if I went he would kick me out and I would have nowhere to go. After much screaming and throwing of things he agreed to let me go for three nights.

As soon as I left he called the police and said I had been kidnapped and was being held against my will by family members. The police actually took him seriously. To this day I have no idea why, and we arrived at our holiday house to a phone call from the Mt Gravatt Police demanding to speak to both my mother and I to check on my welfare. Kevin called about an hour later and said that he was going to come and pick me up. He arrived several hours later. My Mum went over to the car with me and told me that if I left with him I would lose my family.

She didn’t understand why I stayed. She didn’t know about the threats he had made to harm my family or the fact that I was now so broken down that I truly believed I was worthless, that this was my life and that no one else could ever possibly want me because I was such a waste of space. To her it was black and white. To me it was anything but. I got into the car with him and he spent the two-hour drive back to Brisbane alternating between screaming at me and slamming my head into the window. One Christmas I was having lunch with my family. Mum had booked a nice restaurant and it was to be the last Christmas I spent with my grandmother before dementia sadly took hold. He called my phone every 20 minutes demanding to know if I was almost finished. I ended up so distressed at the abuse I knew was coming that I left early. Again my family were angry at me and saw it as me putting my relationship before them. We drove to a park with him screaming at me the entire way and throwing his Christmas present out the window after declaring it worthless.

When we got to the past I had to act like nothing was wrong, be Miss Mary Sunshine while his mother fawned over him. Another memorable incident was one day when I didn’t call him in sick to work. I had done the groceries prior to going home from work myself. Kevin refused to do a combined shop and if I ate any of his food I would be screamed at and ordered to replace it. When he found out I hadn’t called him in sick he went over to the groceries I had brought home and began throwing everything breakable at the wall and everything that was canned at me.

A stolen kiss opened my eyes to a new future…

One of his favorite tricks was to play with my mind and tell me that he had never hit me and I was imagining it, even as I was covered in half healed bruises. It was psychotic and made me doubt my sanity. In the second year of our relationship I started working part time. I was meeting people and forming friendships for the first time in two years. I was good at my job and knew that I had the potential to advance in the company. This was the beginning of the end for us. Throughout our relationship I tortured myself about my sexuality.

I have kept a journal since the age of seven and I would write pages and pages trying to make sense of the mess in my head. Kevin and I rarely had sex. He preferred to watch violent porn and when we were intimate the acts he wanted to perform were degrading so I refused. I had never felt anything when I was with a boy and I knew from my friends and the way that they talked about their partners that this wasn’t normal. I was extremely attracted to girls.

I thought about girls, being in a relationship with one, kissing a girl while brushing her hair back from her face. I knew that if I left Kevin I wouldn’t be able to have a relationship with a man again. I knew I would have to accept that I was a lesbian and that thought terrified me. My parents were fairly traditional and my father didn’t have anything nice to say about homosexual men. I thought that if I came out I would lose my family.

I spent a year talking to Mum about gay issues and gay rights hoping she would pick up on the clues I was desperately dropping but she never did. Just after our two-and-a-half-year anniversary I ran into a girl I had gone to school. We exchanged numbers and she invited me to her birthday party which was that weekend. Amazingly I was allowed to go on my own. One of the first things she said to me was “Did you know I had an enormous crush on you all through high-school.” If I had been a cartoon character my heart would have been beating out of my chest.

We went up to her room later as we had decided to go to a gay club and I needed to borrow something as I wasn’t dressed for clubbing. We were standing near her closet, my heart was pounding and I had butterflies. She leaned in to kiss me but at that moment someone walked into her room and we jerked apart like we had been burned. After that night my eyes were opened. I knew I had to leave. I knew that as much as I didn’t want to be I was a lesbian and I had strong feelings for this girl. It’s a cliché but she was all I thought about and she made me smile like an idiot.

Why I stayed? Because leaving was easier said than done…

I was scared of how Kevin would react when I left him. I was expecting a bashing, abuse, things to be thrown at me. I set a date for when I was going to leave and began secretly packing my clothes the week before. I had decided I would leave over the weekend. I remember that I stood on the balcony, looked up at the stars and asked my Nana to give me the strength to finally leave.

I went to bed before him that night and was almost asleep when he came into bed. He leaned over and roughly grabbed my breast and I pushed him off me and said no. I couldn’t stand the thought of him kissing me or touching me. His response was ironic. He screamed “You’re a fucking dyke” at me and went back to his porn in the other room. I screamed that I was leaving him.

He didn’t take me seriously even as I packed my stuff and called my mother to come and get me. It was 2am but she came and for the first time in years I felt free. The next day I felt like a weight had been physically lifted from my shoulders. I felt free for the first time in years and I don’t think I stopped smiling for a week. I went back and got the rest of my things when he wasn’t there. He bombarded me with calls begging me to come back, threatening to kill himself and saying that we had been a family. I might have gone back if the girl I had fallen for hadn’t taken me out of Brisbane for the weekend and confiscated my phone.

Beneath her charm lurked a dangerous devil…

Fast forward to 27. I was an out and proud lesbian and had been for several years My parents had accepted me and hadn’t disowned me like I had been so afraid of. I had gotten out of a long term relationship a year earlier and was happily single. I was out celebrating New Years when my friend introduced me to a girl called Shiva. We didn’t talk much but she got my number and soon we were texting incessantly and planning on going on a date. The warnings were there from day one. She claimed to have psychic powers that allowed her to read other people’s thoughts.

She told me that this meant that she would always know if someone was lying to her. She claimed to be able to astral travel and that she had been asked to leave a coven a few years earlier because she was too powerful. I believed in the occult but I took what she was saying with a grain of salt.

We were only together for a year but the abuse and undermining started on our second date. We were out with friends of hers, people I had never met before, and in the middle of dinner she started asking me questions about my sexual history. I was mortified and tried to shrug it off but I felt awkward and embarrassed for the rest of the evening. We spent all our time together almost from day one.

I was essentially living with her after three weeks. She told me she loved me, she showered me with gifts, she told me she had never felt this way before. She was volatile though. She once ordered me out of her house in the middle of the night because she wanted me to say that she was my soul mate and I didn’t. I ended up saying it and was allowed to stay. Shiva and I had spoken about our past relationships soon after we met.

What she had to say shocked me. She had ended one relationship by moving all her furniture and belongings out of the house while her girlfriend was at work, she poured acid on another girlfriends car after the relationship ended and another ex girlfriend had taken out a DVO on her and also accused her of sexual assault. The things she was saying didn’t gel with the charming persona she was presenting me with at the time. I assumed that she had changed and that things with me would be different. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

She hated my friends and thought my parents were too involved in my life. Before meeting her I had had an active social life but she stopped all that. My friends got together and planned a dinner for my birthday. At the last minute she threw a fit and wouldn’t let me go, saying she wanted to do something special for me for my birthday and I should value her more than my friends. I cancelled, they were suitably impressed and ate my birthday dinner without me.

I was her obedient little sheep…

With Shiva everything was about appearances. She had a good job, owned her own home and was attractive. She wanted a trophy wife so to speak. After we had been together for a few weeks she started picking out my clothes and accessories. She would lay them out on the bed for me and like an obedient little sheep I went along with it. It was very important to her that we were seen as the perfect couple, I officially moved in with Shiva after 2 months. Her house was the size of a studio apartment. We both had furniture.

She wanted me to throw everything I owned out and just use hers. I refused which was one of the very few smart things I did. She also wanted me to throw out my linen. It may not sound like a big thing but I had blankets my Nana had made me that I wasn’t going to throw out. I texted a friend saying that Shiva wanted me to throw out the blankets my Nana had made me.

Shiva picked up my phone because she went through my messages regularly and was furious when she saw that text and my friends reply. She made me send a text from my phone to my friend saying that I could no longer have her in my life as she didn’t support our relationship. I lost almost all my friends while we were together. Shiva insisted on getting a joint account as soon as we moved in together. I agreed and unwittingly gave her complete control of my finances. She did up a budget and kept all my money. I was allowed to keep $50 of my pay a week and I was told I was lucky to be allowed to have that money and that I really should be earning more. Shiva was obsessed with money and was constantly berating me over it.

One day she came home from work and was abusing me and telling me how useless I was and how I needed to have more ambition, this was despite the fact that I was both working and studying full-time. She had been verbally abusing me for two hours when she got a text from a friend asking if we wanted to go to the movies. I couldn’t have been less enthusiastic but she dressed me and we went. I remember thinking as we backed out of the driveway that I wouldn’t be living in that house for long.

When we met up with Shiva’s friends she was all over me, it was like the last few hours hadn’t happened. She wanted me to play along, to maintain the illusion that we were the perfect couple. I started feeling really overwhelmed. Once we were in the theatre I felt hot and cold chills which started in my neck and ran all the way down my body. I broke out in a goose bumps and a cold sweat and felt an overwhelming feeling of terror. I didn’t feel safe, I didn’t want to be there, I wanted to be home. I tried to talk myself out of it but I was overcome with nausea and had to run to the bathroom where I threw up. I went back to the cinema and tried to pretend everything was ok but I was back in the toilet vomiting 5 minutes later.

Shiva decided we would go home but was furious with me for embarrassing her. I was throwing up all the way to the car. This was my first experience of a panic attack and I had no idea what was going on. When we got to the car Shiva told me she thought I had mental health issues and she didn’t want me going back to her place, she wanted me to stay at my parents. She eventually relented and took me home but she refused to speak to me or sleep in the bed with me. She slept on the couch. After that night things went downhill really fast.

“Nothing and useless” – that was me…

She never raised a hand to me but in a way it would have been easier if she had. She controlled my money, how I looked, who I saw, what I wore. She insisted I dye my hair red as she liked redheads. She read my texts and Facebook messages, she went out of her way to keep my from my family, employing Kevin’s tactic of becoming sick and needing to be looked after whenever I had made plans with them. Shiva became more and more controlling. We got a dog and she used to give her things of mine that she didn’t like to destroy.

It got to the point where I was constantly anxious and on edge. I was depressed and went to the Dr. I was given antidepressants which helped but had the side effect of making me shake. Shiva refused to let me sleep in the bed with her as she claimed that my shaking disturbed her. I was relegated to the couch again. Every day I was told I was nothing and useless, that I was crazy and had serious mental health issues.

It was hours upon hours of her yelling at me. It got to the stage where I wasn’t able to leave the house by myself because I didn’t feel safe. My mother had to take time off work to look after me as I wasn’t able to do simple tasks like getting up and dressed without much prodding. Brushing my hair was both an achievement and a challenge.  If I had to do the groceries on my own I would call my mother and make her drive 40 minutes to meet me at the shop. I was too scared to go in by myself.

I struggled to even decide what food to buy. It got to the stage where I was incapable of going to work. I couldn’t focus, I was constantly on edge, hiding in the toilets trying to stop the constant panic attacks. I was constantly calling in sick. Not surprisingly I was fired. Shiva broke up with me. I was no longer her perfect trophy wife. I was a complete mess. She told me I was an embarrassment,,that she couldn’t be with someone who was on Centrelink benefits and was on antidepressants. Shiva succeeded in doing what no one else had. She broke me. After we broke up she sent me an itemised list of every gift she had ever bought me with the price listed next to it and asked to be reimbursed for them. She wasn’t.

Her control and terror destroyed everything I was…

I had a complete breakdown. I couldn’t go anywhere alone. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t drive. I tried to move into a share house but when it came to the day I was meant to move in I couldn’t. I couldn’t cope with having to interact with other people. I didn’t see anyone. I didn’t do anything. I slept all day and rarely got out of bed. I was eventually hospitalised for several months and diagnosed with depression and PTSD.

It took a long time and a lot of therapy for me to rebuild myself and become the person I am today. I think domestic violence needs a lot more funding from the federal government and I think that women need to understand that just because someone isn’t hitting them, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t in a toxic, abusive relationship. I think there needs to be education in schools about what kind of behaviour is acceptable in relationships and what isn’t. I think girls should be educated from an early age about the warning signs that a relationship may be or become abusive.

Why gay people need more domestic violence support…

There is very little talk of domestic violence in homosexual relationships which often makes it harder for victims to seek help. Most people assume domestic violence is something that occurs between a man and a woman. This isn’t always the case and I believe there needs to be a dialogue opened up between existing services and the LGBTQ community.

Funding needs to be allocated to services that are aimed at LGBTQ people. Having been through hell and back three times I believe it is important for women in abusive relationships to realise that things can get better. They can rebuild their lives. So much of domestic violence involves the victim pretending that everything is fine and becoming isolated from friends and family.

They need to know that once their friends and family know what is happening they will want to help. They will have a support system. I believe it is very important to receive counselling after ending this type of relationship, to deal with the feelings and emotions that have been repressed and to undo the lies the abuser has planted in their victims head. I think that if I had received counselling and been able to speak up about what I had gone through with Darren that my relationships with Kevin and Shiva may not have happened. I didn’t though.

They may have beaten me, but I’m far from broken…

I became more and more damaged as time went by and people like these three seem to have an almost sixth sense when it comes to the type of person that I was back then. I have a good life now. I am confident. I will not allow anyone to disrespect me. I will voice my opinion without thinking twice. I am studying nursing as I still want to help people and make my little corner of the world a better place. It is possible to come back from this. You can make a life for yourself. Just take that first step, which I know is terrifying and ask for help. ♥️

If you are in domestic violence crisis help is available from the Australia-wide telephone hotline 1800RESPECT. If you want to take part in the “Why I Stayed” project click here ♥️♥️♥️

Photograph by Sherele Moody © 2016.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.