Christie breaks the vicious cycle of abuse
CHRISTIE Paterson has experienced domestic violence first hand so White Ribbon Day is especially important to her struggle to end it.
Ms Paterson was physically abused by her father at five weeks old and although her mother got out of the relationship straight away, Ms Paterson suffered domestic abuse again in a relationship as an adult.
She said although no one knows exactly what happened, her mother found her in the arms of her father with a blue face.
She was then flown to Sydney for treatment but lives with cerebral palsy as a result of the experience.
Ms Paterson said she suffered depression because of her adult relationship and had to block her feelings out.
"When I got out of the relationship I used to talk to people about it and I was surprised to see how many people suffer from domestic violence," she said.
"It is much more prevalent in the community than you think.
"We need to make a noise about it because we can't let people get away with it."
Ms Paterson said people who were victims of domestic violence should not feel ashamed.
"The only ones who should feel ashamed are the people who cause domestic violence."
Ms Paterson said she would like to see a change in the way courts dealt with domestic violence cases and rehabilitation for abusers to be an option.
"I think offenders should be made to confront and acknowledge what they have done."
Domestic violence liaison officer Senior Constable Steven Pope oversees all domestic violence cases in the Coffs-Clarence Local Area Command.
He works with police, courts, external organisations like the women's refuges and with victims.
Snr Const Pope said the amount of domestic violence cases being reported was increasing, which meant people were coming forward and reporting it to police.
"The word is getting out there," he said.
"It is about men saying enough is enough, and saying it shouldn't be tolerated.
"We want to give victims the power to come forward and report it."
Snr Const Pope said domestic violence cases took up a lot of police time in the Coffs-Clarence area.
"Coffs-Clarence is coming sixth in the state for apprehended violence orders, and sometimes goes higher than that," he said.
"It's high for a number of reasons. "It can be drug and alcohol related. It can because of mental illnesses or low socio-economic situations in families. But it doesn't discriminate."
The more people that reported it the more likely statistics were to improve, he said.