Time to listen: Women share horrendous tales of violence
Dear loyal reader,
One in four women has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner and one in five women has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.
The figures are shocking but the stories behind those numbers are rarely heard.
The violence, whether mental or physical, is often too debilitating for the victims to speak out and the law, too, still silences many of their voices.
Behind those figures are mothers, daughters, neighbours and colleagues.
They are successful women or women who were never really given a chance in life.
And, yes, some of them are men too.
Their backgrounds may differ but their stories all have similarities - at some stage in life they had every ounce of power stripped off them by the very person who was meant to protect, not harm, them - their partners.
As you would have seen, the Sunshine Coast Daily launched HerStory last Sunday to mark sexual violence awareness month this October.
The two-week campaign will give you rare access inside a women's refuge in a secret location on the Sunshine Coast tomorrow.
It will also cover the key players linked to domestic violence such as the charities, the offenders, the police and the system, next week.
But the main aim of the campaign was to give victims of domestic violence back their power by giving them a voice.
This week we've published a series of stories highlighting what goes on behind closed doors in our own community.
If you haven't already read them, I encourage you to do so.
Some of the women's identities were protected.
But their stories were raw, uncensored and, most importantly, real.
These women have gone through unspeakable abuse and have shown immense bravery by sharing their experiences.
Now, the very least you and I can do is to listen.