One call saved my life: Domestic violence victim speaks out
A WOMAN who married a prisoner never predicted the years of torment and abuse that would follow his release.
Putting a human face to the abhorrent crime of domestic violence is Ellie (not her real name), a 53-year-old woman who is a survivor who never thought she would find herself in a situation needing help.
Her story, although not typical, is certainly not unique.
This is my story and I am learning to move on with forgiveness, understanding and acceptance
The carer of an elderly widow, Ellie would accompany the woman on visits to prison to see her son, with whom she soon developed a relationship.
Eventually, they married and a few years later, he was released from prison.
Ellie struggled to provide her husband with his rehabilitation in the community on his release and, with limited resources available, was helpless to stem the rate at which his mental health declined.
"Violence was becoming a regular and escalating event," she said.
Ellie would ring the ambulance - not the police - when he lost control.
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He was admitted to hospital and, still by his side, Ellie was told of the unlikely chance that his mental health would improve.
She took the step too many domestic violence victims don't - she rang the Domestic Violence Centre.
"A worker made herself available and they attended the meeting where I was advised to vanish and change my identity," Ellie said.
That worker presented Ellie with the turning point in escaping the violence.
Every hour, Ellie would get a call explaining the next step in safely escaping the violent home at a time when rational thought was impossible.
She got free, and boldly told her story in front of a large crowd to help raise awareness of the crime and tell others that help exists.
"I know I can pick up the phone at any time to seek advice or assistance from the staff at the DV centre, and I have begun my own mission to assist others in a similar predicament," she said.
"This is my story and I am learning to move on with forgiveness, understanding and acceptance.
"Most of all, I am learning to develop new goals and a new purpose.
"In my journey to rebuild my life, I am able to encourage others to do likewise."
DV incidents reported to police in past 12 months
- Toowoomba - 1088
- Kingaroy - 193
- Warwick - 156
- Murgon - 147
- Drayton - 86
- Nanango - 81
- Oakey - 68
- Stanthorpe - 67
- Helidon - 52
- Goondiwindi - 44
- Goombungee - 42
- Chinchilla - 41
- Tara - 34
- Crows Nest - 31
- Pittsworth - 28
- Cambooya - 24
- Millmerran - 4
- Jondaryan - 1
Spotlight turned on an ugly crime
MAY is the month the State Government has declared a spotlight will be turned on the ugly crime to highlight it doesn't have to be that way for the thousands of victims.
Toowoomba Crime Prevention Sergeant Tony Rehn said the city's domestic violence statistics were about average, but conceded that was still too high.
We are starting to realise it is unacceptable and it is a crime
"In Toowoomba, we are in good standing for a city of this size," he said.
"It is neither higher nor lower for Queensland."
Domestic violence was shedding its taboo blanket and more people were talking about it, he said, which meant police were better able to deal with cases when reported.
"We are starting to realise it is unacceptable and it is a crime," he said.
"It's a generational change, and has to do with the changing attitudes towards women's rights as well."
Gender issues and sexual orientation also impacted the degree in which victims will report cases to the authorities.
"It is a pervasive crime affecting the whole spectrum of community and is not restricted to just women and children, there are men victims, in all forms of relationships," he said.
"In a gay relationship, it's almost shame to say you're firstly in a gay relationship but then to say you are a victim of a gay lover.
"It's a really tricky thing."
Sgt Rehn outlined that the perception of domestic and family violence only being assault does not encompass the controlling, intimidation and harassment which constitutes the bulk of abuse.
"The hitting and black eyes is just the visible portion of this crime," he said.
A wife of a fly in, fly out worker was so strictly monitored she was left a set amount of money for the two weeks the husband was away.
From that, supplies for her three children were to be bought and each kilometre travelled in the car was to be accounted for.
She escaped the relationship and eventually reported it to police, but not before years of torment and abuse.
Not all is doom and gloom in our community with the Toowoomba region standing up and doing something about violence.
"Even though we know this stuff is happening, police are powerless unless we are told," Sgt Rehn said.
"But the community is actually standing up and doing something about violence.
"Toowoomba Says No to Violence is a coalition of people determined to actually change the attitudes of people towards violence. It includes the council, Domestic and Family Violence prevention, business community, and Chamber of Commerce and Government agencies.
"Sometimes, the tiniest thing can change a life."
Where to get help.....
- Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Service - 4639 3605
- Police - 000 or 4631 6317
- DVConnect Womensline - 1800 811 811
- DVConnect Mensline - 1800 600 636
- 1800 RESPECT - 1800 737 732
- Kids helpline - 1800 551 800
- Talk to a friend, family member, or even a complete stranger
- Seek help