I was confronted this morning by the story of Tara Corrigan, 28 year old mother of 3, who was murdered with an axe by her ex- partner, while breast feeding her daughter of a few days old. She had only taken out a restraining order the day before it happened.
When I was a kid the police came to my house and their hands seemed tied on how to help us. It was either spend a night in lock-up or go to family counselling. Guess what my dad chose. Because there's nothing better than being trapped in a room with your abuser while he justifies every mean thing he does.
I loved cutting my own bangs (fringe), and the spanking stick loved my ass for it!
Here's just a small snippet of my life as a child of domestic violence:
It took almost two decades for my mother (of eight children) to gather the courage to get my dad out of our house. Two decades of living in fear every day. Good days for me, as a 15 year old, were the days my dad came home at around 3am, slept on the couch (which got stinky), and left before I got up for school. Those were better days than most because I could go a whole 24 hours with out seeing him.
When he had abused me or a family member for something (or nothing), I would beg my mum to leave him, and was always met with the same answer - "He's your father, don't talk about him that way. Show some respect."
Me on the right - Age 15
Once my mum finally announced to us that she was "leaving" dad, those phone calls suddenly made sense. My mum was calling a lawyer. My dad was notorious for tapping our phones, and for recording our conversations at home without our knowledge. He did this through video camera, tape recorder and god knows what else. It was dangerous for mum to use our home phone, and that alone is an insight into how small her controlled world had become.
This is right after we down sized into a very small, low income town house with 4 bedrooms - one of which became my dad's study, and remained that way even when baby #8 was born and my 2 brothers had to sleep under the stairs.
It was years before the church finally told him he could not longer preach or lead in any capacity in their church, or any of the others in our denomination. I'm not at all bitter towards them but I am very disappointed that they didn't do something to help us, to "save" us from him.
I gave you a little bit of that family church history because it's another huge reason my mum struggled for so long with leaving my dad. She was ingrained with the belief that she could not divorce because it went against God's word. How many women have been trapped in loveless marriages for this exact reason alone? So when my mum finally separated from dad she still held out hope for their reconciliation. She wanted to believe that this would be the breaking point for him, that he would see the errors of his ways, have time without his family, and miraculously repent, and change.
Once dad was out of the house for good I looked my mum in the eyes and making her promise that she would never let him in the house again. Ever. Home never felt safe. Ever. This promise was giving me a small sense of security in my insecure life. After my dad was booted out I found out that my mum had gotten a restraining order, because of my dad's continued strange and scary behaviour.That seemed to comfort me more than a promise from my mum. I knew she was weak, and I also had a distrust for her keeping that promise because she was married to a master manipulator. I also knew how badly she was hanging on to that hope ...
We have "good" christian family written all over us. You can see the sadness, and I'm not just talking about the girl on the right who brushes out her curls (me).
But he showed up one day. She went out to his car, and he balled his eyes out to her, showing his "genuine remorse." I remember her saying to me "But Jessie, you didn't see him. He was crying, and he's so, so sorry ..."
They had materialised; the apologies that had been so hard for him to offer for the last 20 years of physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental abuse. The apologies had come from the the biggest victim blamer I've ever known. Sitting in the car that day he said the things she wanted to hear, it wasn't hard. Shortly after that, maybe a week, I came downstairs to find the man sitting in my living room to pick her up for a date. Panic gripped me. SHE HAD PROMISED ME, yet there he was. Looking right at me. She let him back in. We weren't safe.
There is more than one way to break a restraining order, and violence is just one way. If your abuser has a big enough hold on you, and is a master manipulator he might just creep over that line by whispering a few kind words and apologies into your ear.
Why aren't we doing more to prevent these horrible stories from happening again and again? I urge you to act if you know someone in a domestic abuse situation; do so thoughtfully and seek advice. The last thing you want is to put the victim(s) into any more danger. But please do not be silent. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence please call Lifeline today on 13 11 14. There are so many resources to help victims get away from their abuser.