We have a rule that the news is never on in our home. This rule started after we lost our daughter because I felt I was only just coping with our own sadness and I had no room in my brain or my heart to hear and feel other people’s sadness.
Today however, all the children were in bed early and I turned on the television and heard the devastating news about the murder of Tara Brown.
News stories like these hit quite a raw nerve for me. When I was young, too young to see the signs that later in life I realised were alarm bells – I dated a boy! I call him a boy even though he was nineteen years old and is legally considered a man. A man wouldn’t and shouldn’t treat any girl or woman the way he did. In fact no boy should either.
I was seventeen and he was nineteen. I thought I was in love and I’m certain he thought I was an innocent young girl he could conquer.
I went from a strong, outgoing young woman, surrounded by great friends to an introverted, terrified, lonely and battered young woman.
In less than a year this man had mentally and physically abused me in more ways I care to remember.
I woke up every morning terrified of what mood he would be in as that would be my fate for the day. I became his financial lifeline. I worked full time and he held out his hand.
I became his emotional lifeline. He would spiral out of control and hurt me and I would soothe him.
Why did I stay you ask? Because he had successfully destroyed every friendship I had and isolated me completely and totally. He told me repeatedly if I left he would come after me and kill me and then he would do the same to my family. There was too much to lose and I believed him.
Eventually I worked up the courage to start seeing a counsellor …. Secretly! After my first session with her I felt total relief that I had actually told someone about the life I was living. She encouraged me to leave him and call the police.
The following day she called me when I was at work and told me how concerned she was for my safety and I should consider not going home that night. I didn’t feel I had the strength and I don’t think my mind was ready.
That night I went home and he very nearly killed me. I will never forget the look in his eyes when I attempted to defend myself for the first time. After that I will never forget the feeling of my body slammed against the wall. My feet were no longer on the ground as his large hands held my failing body around my neck. A large knife was lodged against my throat and I could feel my skin tearing. I could hear the blood pumping through my body as the fear and panic engulfed me.
That night I made a pact with myself that if I survived the night I HAD to leave him.
Somehow his crazy mind showed me mercy after hours and hours of torment and I spent the night consoling this psychopath that we would be fine and tomorrow was a new day. I never closed my eyes for a single moment that night as he lay wrapped around me for I was scared I would wake up and lose my nerve.
The next day I went to work and called my Dad and never went back to a man who very nearly destroyed me.
Why am I writing this tonight and letting you know some of my deepest secrets?
Because Tara Brown should not have died at the hands of this violent man.
Because her little girl should grow up with a mother.
Because these evil men should be locked away.
Because maybe someone who reads this decides they too have the strength to leave a relationship that will destroy them.
I was a young woman, a girl really, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a friend, a colleague but how many people really had any idea what my life was really like?
It took an amazing, caring and loving man to show me what love really was. It took years of counselling, night terrors, anxiety, panic attacks and plenty of tears to leave the past behind me. Even today when I’m out and I get a whiff of the deodorant he used I look over my shoulder and make sure he’s not close by, I break out in a sweat, my heart races too quickly and I begin to panic.
But today I am a woman with strength and determination and the utmost admiration for all women and children living in battered relationships. For all of you I pray and send eternal love and strength that you have someone who can help you out safely to live a real life.
If you suspect someone you know is living like this, please ask them if they are okay.
Australia says no to violence against women!