THE TRUTH ABOUT DOMESTIC ABUSE (SUNDAY TELE)

I have no idea why I felt shocked when I heard Monday morning that Matt Newton had physically attacked his girlfriend, actress Rachel Taylor. Because he’s done it before, and ‘his type’ always end doing it again. I shouldn’t be shocked, because I know firsthand that men like this will always erupt again.

It was some years ago, and it was during the back end of not such a happy stretch of my life. I went into the relationship praying he was going to the man that could protect me. Three words that often attract violence – ‘low self esteem’.

He was soft and gentle on the outside, but very dark and troubled inside.

We all watched Rihanna after the Chris Brown incident. Looked on in horror at the photos of her bruised face, and thought, “why has she gone silent? Surely she must hate him?” “Where has the powerful popstar gone.?

I have no doubts she was silent because she was still in shock. Still trying to separate the man she loved from the beast we saw. That doesn’t happen overnight. Even if that night got really ugly.

I’m glad Rachel Taylor seems to be publicly saying “Enough!” She took a chance on her troubled lover though, because we all knew what he’d done in the past. Women always think they’ll be the one to save him. That’s our universal mistake.

I know what it’s like to think you’ll save someone, only to have your head slammed on the floor, and hot wax thrown in my eyes. All ‘accidents’ of course, and always thanks to something ‘I did’.

I know what it’s like now to think, “it’s finally too late.” For that split second when my eyeballs were covered in wax, my first thought was “are you happy now, you’re blind?” If I had no respect for myself, of course I knew what others would say.

I was terrified that people would judge me. And that terror kept me quiet for way too long. I put up with his manipulation and our ‘incidents’ for what now seems a ludicrous amount of time.

The same old excuses, “but you were being a bitch”, or “you pushed me first!”

He was right, I did push him first because when someone is towering over you, pinning you against the wall with their head touching yours, screaming in your face, you want to get away. And of course, as they’ve done before to you or someone else, they know that’s their queue to punch you, because “you pushed me first!”

There’s something about being a woman that brings out empathy for others where empathy shouldn’t live. My partner did confess he was first beaten up at age 3 by one of his many stepfathers. It’s hard not to picture that poor child, being beaten and not mourn for him,. But that child was now a strong man, and I was now the victim. But that child stayed in my head. I still felt some strange sense of protection over him. Instead I spent valuable time that I should have spent getting away, hating his mother.

Because she should have protected him. If only she’d protected him, our relationship could have stood a chance. So now I’m playing his game. It’s always someone else’s fault.

I literally look back and shudder at this time of my life. I most certainly would never ever allow this to go on ever again. One push, one punch and you’re gone. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

But it was my first time. I hope my only time. And I went through emotions that I know others do too. Others are doing right now. If you are reading this now I want to say to you, he, or she will not stop hurting you one day. It will get worse and you may die. You may end up in a wheelchair, scarred for life, and even blind.

Risking these things because you feel sad, you feel empathy for them you have nowhere else to go, or you’re embarrassed of what others might think, will not save your life.

Because from one victim to another, in a violent relationship, believe me every second counts.

40 thoughts on “THE TRUTH ABOUT DOMESTIC ABUSE (SUNDAY TELE)

  1. Hi Amber,

    Love your article, Dont Wait For Next Time!.
    I too was a victim of abuse, both physical and mental by my 1st husband, and my kids saw it too. Yes and it was all my fault everytime he kicked me, or hit me…..
    I finally found the strength to fight back and kick him out, that was 10 yrs ago, and it was the best thing i ever did. Now happily married to a beautiful man who treats me and my kids with love and kindness.

    My dear mum said to me, Leapords never change their spots, how right she was.

    Keep smiling

    Leanne

    • I”m so happy you’ve met someone else! Did you read the poor mother here that lost her daughter? And that amazing poem. WOW. I’m so sorry for her. so thankful we had a happier ending..x

  2. So eloquently written Amber… congratulations for having the guts to be a voice for other victims of domestic violence.
    Thank God you still have your eyesight and you left the relationship before he maimed you permanently! A woman I knew was so badly beaten by her partner it resulted in permanent brain damage and she was institutionalized for life… the mother of three children. Plus of course there are countless women who have died at the hands of the men they love. Go girl! You’re amazing! X

  3. Thankyou for sharing your story with us. It must have been very hard to revisit that part of your life, again. I too get sick of people blaming everyone else for their own anger/ life decisions. It is up to each individual to break the pattern. ie childhood abuse doesn’t give you permission to repeat offend!!
    My heart goes out to all partners, stuck in a violent (physically or mentally) relationship, and cannot leave at this time.

    Everyone deserves unconditional love, the ablilty to not only love someone, but feel worthy to receive it as well.
    xxxxx

    • I agree, and as opposed to another reader giving Matt a ‘mental health’ get out of jail free card, I would suspect he’s seen violent behaviour before in his life and is repeating it himself. If I were to guess that is as the other writer has.

  4. I don’t agree with domestic violence against women or men for that matter. However Matt Newton clearly has a mental health issue which your column does not recognise or acknowledge. This character assination on the actor is very one-dimensional and does nothing to help people with mental health manage those issues.

    • Of course he has a mental health issue, but it depends if you’re saying that it’s one that he has no control over, or one that he needs to work on. I would suspect that it’s one that he needs to work on. Perhaps rather than everyone talking about his drugs and alcohol issues, we take the issue of why he belts women and treat it seperately. My ex tried to hide behind the drugs and alcohol excuse for why he hit me and others………and it was just an excuse. He hit me when he was on neither. ANd so it seems has Matt Newton. What mental health issue are you saying that he has? Because I am yet to be convinced that his mental health issue is one that excuses him from his behaviour. Or did I miss a report? Perhaps you would think differently if you had a man knowingly hit you as I and others have. Perhaps then you might not be so kind with ‘he has a mental health issue’.

  5. Amber, I’m not your biggest fan but this piece just nails it perfectly.

    My mum showed it to me today (in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph) as I’ve recently started to admit the extent of the abuse I’d suffered in 3 long-term relationships over the last 20 years. My mum is horrified that I felt unable to escape, and that I couldn’t even admit at the time how bad it was. But the key phrase, as you say, is ‘low self-esteem’. We are conditioned by our abusers to feel powerless, to be unable to get away and live a normal life. They need to rule over someone to feel powerful, because they’re pathetic little men with pathetic little lives, and who better to rule over than a woman who is physically unable to fight back?

    (As someone wrote somewhere, did Matt Newton ever walk into a bikie bar and start throwing punches? Ha. Of course not. Gutless wonder.)

    I’ve recently broken up with a man who I thought was the love of my life. He dropped by late one Saturday night and I told him to go home if he was as drunk as he looked. He then snapped into that oh-so-familiar violent screaming about everything I do wrong, shoving me into walls, backing me into corners to scream into my face. I begged him to keep quiet so my kids wouldn’t wake up… he screamed through beer-flavoured saliva flying all over me, “LYING WHORE, LYING WHORE, LYING WHORE” over and over. My 12 year old daughter woke up and heard it. Thankfully my 9 year old son slept through it.

    But I’d left their father for that reason, I was determined that my kids weren’t going to grow up in that sort of household. Been there, done that, got the scars… I’m never putting up with that treatment again. The first hint of physical, emotional or mental abuse is a dealbreaker for me now. But I doubt I will ever be able to trust another man again, to be sure that he won’t turn violent the way the last bloke did.

    And yes, it’s always ‘our fault’, isn’t it? I wonder why the hell they can’t take responsibility for not being able to control their fists.

    “You made me do it”. I heard that more than once, but most memorably after waking up in a cold bath, where my boyfriend had put me to stem the blood flowing from the back of my head when he threw a vacuum cleaner at me from behind and knocked me out. And after I’d regained consciousness, he begged forgiveness and swore he’d never do it again. Don’t they all? And don’t they all do it again? In my experience, yes they do.

    The most interesting thing about my experiences is that each boyfriend came from a staunchly Catholic family. And my most recent ex-boyfriend’s father stood outside my fence and listened to the abuse on that Saturday night, not saying a word, not intervening, not calling the police (as I would have done, had it been my neighbour), he just quietly called to his son when I’d finally managed to manoevre him out of my house. (I hope his god forgives him, because I sure as hell won’t.)

    And when I ran into the ex-boyfriend a couple of weeks later and told him what I thought of him, he scoffed that I was playing the victim again! I kid you not! He’s 47 years old, and he’s STILL not taking responsibility for his actions. It’s STILL my fault. Good grief.

    May all men like him and Matt Newton (and all the people who make excuses for their bad behaviour, and allow it to happen by not making them take responsibility, thus enabling the abuser) rot in hell. Soon.

    Thanks for your article.

  6. ‘Not Impressed’ he obviously has a mental health issue! Anyone who gets off on hurting other people does.

    I was in a violent relationship and after going to marriage guidance (mostly alone) the counsellor referred us to a psychiatrist because he could see my ex was not normal and could not help us.

    The psychiatrist said he was a sociopath. He was outraged, in denial and refused therapy. Because after all it was not him that was being hurt and he could not give a rats ass about anyone else, that is a sociopath’s mindset.

    Matthew Newton could have made the choice to deal with his anger issues after he bashed Brooke Satchwell instead of moving on to another victim!

    • I agree Linda, and I’ve been out with two sociopaths. One was verbal and a liar, and the other violent and a liar. They both clearly have mental issues, but excuse me if I don’t waste any more of my life feeling sorry for them. After all, that’s what they feed on.

  7. Good on YOU Amber.. that’s the spirit!

    Oh and PS ‘Not Impressed’ you seem to be forgetting about the mental health issues the victims and their children are left with!

  8. I agree with you, Amber,that Rachel should leave Matt Newton. However, I also feel sorry for him and I hope that he can overcome his issues. He’s a very talented actor. If he gets his life back together, he can have a great career and have a bright future. Other people have done it. I don’t think that there’s no hope for him.

    • I think there’s alot of secrets that have not come out regarding Matt and his situation. I think until all the truth is out there then it’s unlikely he will be able to focus on healing. Which is sad. I hate seeing anyone with issues that are ruining their lives. Some woman had a go at me about saying I felt sad for Matt (as well as sad for everyone else). Why wouldn’t someone feel sad that someone’s life is so screwed up ruined? THat doesn’t mean that I say ‘Girls give him another go, he’s misunderstood!” NO, I say “Girls stay the hell away from him he’s a loose cannon, and isn’t that sad?”

  9. Amber, thanks for posting so honestly. Matt Newton’s episode was a result of using the drug ice, not child abuse, not a mental condition. Was your ex partner a drug abuser? Those psychotic episodes are utterly scary including for hospital staff. Often it is not partners but bystanders who cop it. It’s time for zero tolerance for drugs, for the sake of our society.

    • yes my ex was a drug abuser but there were no drugs involved when he got violent. I would be terrified of seeing him on drugs. He behaved like this because he grew up seeing it. Drugs and alchohol are not good for unhappy people. We’ve probably all experienced this ourselves. But drugs and alchohol are not an excuse or a reason why men like Matt or my ex hit women. Mine grew up seeing it…Matt’s….well know knows? Someone sure does

  10. Lisa I have no sympathy for him at the moment, have you ever been at the receiving end of an abusive man, or had your precious children abused??
    HE CHOSE not to take the medication for his alleged bipolar, even though by Patti’s admission he has always had a temper and was aware he was hurting the people around him but obviously didn’t care. If he now chooses to turn his life around and feel remorse for what he has done, then and only then will I respect him. I really hope he does, but it will take a lot of hard work. Promises don’t cut it, he has to prove himself now… only time will tell.

  11. Dear Not Impressed,

    While it saddens me that such a young and talented actor is quite obviously suffering from some type of mental illness, whether it be a direct result from substance abuse or simply just a hand dealt by nature, it does not excuse going and getting help.
    In the past, I have suffered emotional then physical abuse by someone who has a mental illness. He knew he had a problem but refused to go and get help. After losing Brooke Satchwell, Matthew Newton should have woken up to the fact that he was a danger not just to other people but also to himself and got the help he needed.

    Mental illness is terrible and I am glad that it is in the spotlight, not so glad that it is now being used as a scapegoat for beating, not one but two women.

    Amber, I hope that your article will shed some light to those people who never understood why I stayed as long as I did and hopefully show them the reason why “I pushed him first”

    Thankyou for your article

    • I agree Lou, there is a million examples of mental health issues, many I’ve written about in the past and tried to throw some light and empathy on them, so I think for ‘not impressed’ to try and imply I’m not fair to someone that has a mental health issue is unresearched and unfair. Yes, it is an issue that is with his mental state, is it an excuse and does he not realise that he’s doing the wrong thing. NO, he knows.

  12. When I saw you on today tonight last night Amber I totally agreed with everything you said and well as what you have said in this article.
    I have been a victim of domestic violence and I lived with it for 10 years before I built up the courage to say enough is enough. And unfortunately I am not the only victim he has there is now 3 of us with DVRO’s against him. I was just the silly person that married him. My only issue is although I pressed charges at the time of the final incident after 2 years in the legal system I ended up dropping the charges because I wanted to get on with my life I was sick of re-living the horror every day of my life and also because I was in fear of my safety and that he would come and get me if I went further to the trial. Even though I have dropped the charges and he has got away with it yet again I am still in fear now that one day he will seek revenge and do something to me. Which is not a good feeling.
    I now want to do something to help other women stand up to these men and get out of the situation. I was always in the fear of the police from the brainwashing from him but after the final time and I went to the police and they couldn’t help me enough they were excellent. I was lucky though that I had the support to make this step to get out but in saying that my family had no idea the horror I was living till I arrived on their doorstep a lot of women don’t have the support so they keep going back or they put up with it. So this is what I want to help with. I am not sure how I cam going to go about this but I feel something good can come out of a very very bad situation.

  13. Amber you are so right….It’s not about drugs and alchohol. It is about just simply getting there own way. From very young some kids can not control there temper, so they just do whatever they can and control as much as possible how they have learnt too. No respect for women or anyone. Kids need role models. We all get angry but violence is not the way. I have been living my life on eggshells now for 24 years, and it wasn’t until my kids started displaying the same characteristics emulating what was happening, that I stood up. I refuse now to lose my son to violence and losing his temper, and need to teach my daughter to not except. It is really so hard, because you just feel for the person you have been with for so long. And the threats? Do we continue to accept and make believe???? Totally confused, so many other women have, but I am now taking a stance!!!

  14. Having read your column and the long list of replies above it makes me ashamed to be a male. You have shown great courage in sharing your very personal experiences with your readership and you certainly have my admiration and great respect. Well done Amber!

    • You’re beautiful!!!! Never be ashamed about being a man. Most men would never dream of hurting a woman. And you know… I’ve heard stories from men about being abused by women too. It’s sadly just one of the symptoms of their upbringing. It’s just the weaker humans that know what they’re doing is wrong and don’t make it their business to fix or heal it. Then theRes the ones so damaged they’ve lost all empathy. I think Matt and my ex fall under that banner. X

  15. Dear ‘Totallyagree’ it is wonderful that you want to help other women who are being violated, this would not only help them, but also be cathartic for you. I spent time in women’s shelters and felt the same way. I decided that it was my destiny to help victims of domestic violence. I applied for a job advertised at a shelter (not all the staff are trained counsellors, there are lots of different roles, child care, excursions, domestic duties and more). The majority of the staff at the shelters I stayed at had experienced DV and that is why they were there too.

    When I confided in a wise friend that I wanted to work in a shelter her response was ‘you can’t, you cry too easily’. She was right, I do and I would be just hopeless. I don’t feel I’m made of the right stuff to do this sort of work. I still intend to give back in some way, but don’t have the right personality to be a comfort to these women.

    If you are strong maybe this would be a way of giving back, for you. Even better, if you are up to it, do a counselling course. Counsellors who have lived it are 1000% better than those who have learnt only from a text book, not just in DV but all problems.

  16. Thanks Linda for your reply
    I want to help people that are to scared to leave that don’t have the support that I was lucky enough to have and to help them realise that they can get through it. It took me a long time to wake up to what was happening to me wasn’t right and I didn’t have to put up with it. I am certainly strong now and very determined. I just believe that I can turn something so so bad into something good.
    I am well and truly over what happened to me and ready to move on but I still have to be a little weary just in case he is following me or something. My story reads like a movie script a little unbelievable at times at what he did but its certainly taught me a few things and certainly made me a stronger person.

  17. Thanks for sharing, Amber. What did you do after leaving the hotel? Did you live together? Were you afraid for your life after that and/or possessions? Did you move interstate or go on holiday? I’m intrigued, both short term and long term what steps would you recommend?

  18. sometimes it’s hard to believe, sometimes it’s hard to believe we live in a civilized world, sometimes it’s hard to believe we live in an educated world, and sometimes it’s just hard to believe what goes on in our own worlds. that’s why we need to tell our stories, no matter how hard it is to believe it ourselves. I didn’t buy him flowers today!

  19. i can’t find the poem about the flowers written by the mother after her daughter was killed by her violent partner that accompanied this piece when it was published orginally. Any one know where else i can find it?

    • Hi Jenni, I’m going to post the column I wrote that used the poem into. It is very powerful and alot of people mentioned how moved they were by it. I’m very pleased the mother of the poor victim who died sent it. It is powerful and gets the message out perfectly.

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