An article yesterday about domestic violence has left a bad taste in my mouth.
Steve Price seems to me to take pleasure in belittling females. While I am not saying that Van Badham needed the language, I can certainly understand her using it. She too, as I understand it, has been a victim of violence against women. Today I want to tell you my story.
For those of you who have lived it, you will understand. For those of you who haven’t, maybe you will understand a little more after reading my story. You see, this happened to me quite a few years ago. Despite what authorities tell you, little has changed in all these years. Despite what you hear, this happens to many more women, and some men, way more than you hear about it. My story is not unique. It is just sad that the events back then changed me, changed who I am today and before you say let it go and move on, I did. The sad thing is, it’s not something that ever goes away completely, no matter how hard you try to make it.
My first husband was a soldier in the Australian Armed Forces. We met, got engaged and then married. He was sweet and attentive and showed absolutely no signs of being violent. Then only three weeks into our marriage, I wasn’t quick enough to get his dinner on the table and I ended up with a broken jaw because of it. We didn’t live on the army barracks because he didn’t want to. I had nobody to turn to and when I told a buddy of his, he called me a liar.
My jaw was broken because I had fallen and cracked my face on the pavement. That’s what my husband made me tell everyone. The doctor, of course, knew better. Back then, the police didn’t like to get involved in domestic disputes. My husband was sorry and it was never going to happen again.
Over the course of the next two years, my husband broke my arm, knocked out four of my teeth and dislocated my shoulder. They were the small things he did to me. He kicked me repeatedly with his army boots on one night. My face was so bloodied I was unrecognisable for weeks. He threw me through a window and beat me with the garden hose. He tied me to my bed and held his army rifle at my head while he set fire to the edges of the bed. He kicked my little puppy to death while he had me tied up and made me watch. These are some of the many things he did. I spent more time in hospital than out.
I ran away twice and he beat up my brother for punishment and dragged me back. Then he was sent to Canada on a goodwill mission. He was there three days when the army informed me he was being sent home because he had assaulted a woman over there. They assured me he would be locked up and they would get him help. This didn’t happen.
He was discharged and the beatings started again. He kept me isolated from everyone. I was too scared to leave when he was in Canada. One day, after he had stayed up all night threatening me with his butcher’s knives, he went of to work and I enlisted the help of the only relative he had that was not too scared to help me, and she got me on a train away from him.
With my solicitor’s help, my whereabouts were kept secret and I divorced him. I had wasted away to a shadow of my former self and everything terrified me. It took me three years to go outside on my own. To this day, I see someone walking in front of me who reminds me of him and I shake. For many years, I had counselling for the nightmares.
Now some of you will say this is an extreme case, but it isn’t. I often thought I could kill him while he was sleeping but I was scared he wouldn’t die and would come after me. I know young women now who go through those thoughts. My life changed as a result of this man, I changed forever. But I am alive. Many are left fighting for their lives or dead. Many are too frightened to report the abuse.
The police have gotten better and will intervene these days, but the laws haven’t changed so the sentences are a joke. The attitude of society also needs to change. No woman, or man, deserves abuse. No woman looks for it because of the way she dresses, or speaks, or because she is out alone. No man has the right to even joke about these things or bring his kids up to think boys are tougher, better or superior to girls. There is no case for political correctness going overboard on this. There are women in droves – at units, at home, on the street, in bars – being abused or killed, just because they cannot fight their attackers off.
Something has to change. Television ads won’t cut it. Men and women have to change. Victims have to learn that they are not at fault, they have every right to be treated with respect. Perpetrators have to learn that if you are going to do these things, a judge won’t make excuses for you. You will be punished and punished hard.
You cannot do this to us anymore.