Domestic Violence happens to all kinds of people, of all ages and backgrounds
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A Wodonga Story
Ann first came to the Women’s Centre in Albury during the breakdown of her 18month long relationship due to domestic violence. Ann’s friends had told her she should drop in to the Women’s Centre, saying that the people there “could help her with anything”
Ann told us “As long as I can remember I have been hit by men in my life. When I was a little kid, I was sexually abused. My family had a lot of trauma. There was always something happening. When I was 23, I was attacked and sexually assaulted.
“I have intrusive thoughts, lots of the things that have happened to me are in my head and I think about them a lot. My stomach churns and I feel anxious. I don’t get sad when I talk about the abuse, I’m disconnected”.
Ann said it took her a while to realise she was living in a domestic violence relationship.
“I kept thinking that the current relationship wasn’t as bad as the last relationship I was in”.
The day Ann tried to leave her partner he said to her “I was planning on killing you anyway”. He then physically assaulted Ann, threw her out of the house and locked her out.
Ann and her children moved in with her family. They were fearful that her ex-partner would show up at her workplace or at one of her family member’s home and cause trouble. This added to Ann’s anxiety and made it extremely difficult for her to access support from the community Ann was afraid she would run into her ex-partner.
With the support of the Women’s Centre, Ann attended therapy, met with advocacy services and participated in groups with women from similar situations. Within weeks, Ann moved into her own house in a rural location. This helped with her anxiety and was beneficial to her mental health. Ann told us that seeing her counsellor and attending one of the therapy groups helped her improve her relationship with her children and increased her confidence.
Ann was encouraged to take small steps, such as working on her physical wellbeing, joining a walking group, and working at a new job taking care of animals.
Ann said “The hardest part was forgiving myself. I have had to work hard on self-forgiveness. I now know I am allowed to care for myself and even love myself. I know that no one is allowed to hurt me or my kids”
Some people have a very different life behind closed doors
An Albury Story
Cathy has been in a difficult relationship for the past twenty-five years. Married to her childhood sweetheart at seventeen years old, her husband, Doug, was a well-known, well-respected figure in his community. Due to this, Cathy thought no one would believe her if she tried to get help.
When Cathy first called the Women’s Centre, she was fearful to come into the Centre, worried that someone would see her and tell her husband. The Intake team worked out a good time to talk over the phone and Cathy was able to start having ongoing telephone consultations for counselling. During the counselling sessions, Cathy had someone to talk to for the first time in many years.
Cathy said “I found strength I didn’t know I had talking to the counsellor, we worked on my Self-Esteem. When we started out, I felt so bad about myself. I didn’t like myself very much for putting up with being yelled at everyday and told I was an idiot and staying anyway”
Cathy has a daughter. “It is heartbreaking knowing that my daughter is growing up seeing me being treated badly and must think that it is normal.”
When the Covid – 19 Lockdowns began, Cathy feared the worst as she, her husband and teenage daughter were at home together, and her daughter was threatening to run away.
“If it were not for the counsellor maintaining sessions with me over the phone, I think I would have gone mad! I learned techniques when communicating with my husband and I have really worked on my own self and self-esteem. I feel so much more confident now. I have started to have conversations with my husband about how I feel, which is a huge step forward”
Cathy said “I would like Women like me to know that it is ok to not know what to do. I have some great support now and am working on what my choices are moving forward. I have choices! I have started to plan what I can do if my daughter and I need to get away.