As a young child, as soon as my dad started yelling when he was drunk, I was locked in my bedroom in the dark, crying while my dad belted my mum. I could hear everything – the yelling, the crying. As I got older I would get my little brother and sister, hide them in my room, then run out of my room to help my mum. Sometimes I would get hit trying to protect her.
I hated going to school – I couldn’t concentrate. Who could be bothered with it – everyone sitting up nicely doing their work and me pretending I wasn’t worried about going home to protect my mum and siblings again.
One day my mum arrived at school to pick me up in a strange car with my little brother and sister and all my toys in the back. Mum said we were going to stay at a different house for a little while and that was all I was told. I was scared. We all slept in one room that had three sets of bunks. I wanted to go home but didn’t because I knew we would get it. My mum would walk around the house crying and watching out the window… she told me she was scared that dad would find us. I just wanted to go home. I loved dad and hated him at the same time.
How I survived
I felt heaps of different emotions. I was scared, angry, guilty, ashamed and jealous of everyone I knew that didn’t have to go through this, but at the same time I loved both my parents and wasn’t aware of how wrong our lives were.
I took drugs and I got drunk every chance I could. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop my dad from hitting us. I was too scared to leave home and too scared to stay. I kept all friends at a distance, and I avoided having anyone over to my house.
I left school in year 11, got a job and moved out of home to live with my boyfriend. Dad’s control over mum happened more often but the hitting was less. I just wanted them to get divorced. It wasn’t until I left home that I realised how wrong my dad was and that what he was doing had a name: domestic violence.
One night my dad went right off his tree. He belted my mum, and ripped the phone of the wall so we couldn’t ring police. My brother witnessed this and came to get me. I went looking for mum and told her, ‘I can’t do this anymore, it’s time to leave’. I made her stay at my house and I told my father he has to leave, this is wrong. Nobody cared how I was feeling.
“I felt heaps of different emotions. I was scared, angry, guilty, ashamed and jealous of everyone I knew that didn’t have to go through this, but at the same time I loved both my parents and wasn’t aware of how wrong our lives were”
A newly found friend said to me, ‘has something happened to you in the past?’ I avoided this question for months until I felt safe enough to say what had been happening. He supported me to seek help. It was the hardest but best thing that I could have done. To talk and read about people going through what I was going through was a great help for me. To know I was not alone anymore and realising that it wasn’t my fault was a good feeling.
I’m now 25 years old and I am working in a women’s refuge for domestic violence. I work with the children who come in to the refuge. It’s a rewarding job, being able to assist the children in living with and leaving domestic violence. I love life – I have a gorgeous husband and son with another baby on the way.
I believe if I can come from the lowest place possible to achieving my goals and believing life really is a good thing, then it is possible for other young people too. Seek help from someone you trust or a professional. There are people out there who care even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. It’s okay to feel the way you feel because of the situation you are in.