Even though ‘Australia says no to violence against women’, I still hear people say the same things in response to hearing that someone has been in a violent relationship, and it makes me sad, and angry.  Things like “she seems like a smart girl, so why would she stay with him?”, or “Why wouldn’t she just walk out the minute he showed that side of himself?”

The fact is,  a man doesn’t present himself on the first date as being a ‘woman basher’.  There’s a lot of things that people leave off their CV’s when they’re trying to start a relationship, and that’s certainly one of them!   If you’ve never been subjected to an violent or abusive man  in a previous relationship, and have never grown up as a child around one, it is understandable surely that you are not expecting one to walk into your life and certainly naïve to the signs that the person may end up really hurting you.  After all, many of the signs are not as obvious as a punch!

Even smart, seemingly successful women, suffer at times from low self esteem which often results in them ignoring their gut feelings that may tell them something’s not right with their partner.  Because of their low self asteem they tend to argue with their gut feeling or simply ignore by thinking ‘well what would you know anyway.  You’re hopeless at everything else, why would you be clued up to this?’

Take for instance a girl I love, and rate as pretty smart, who found herself in a violent relationship with a man initially she would have described as ‘gentle, and loving.  She later found out he was anything but and had, himself grown up as a victim of physical and sexual abuse throughout.  During the course of this relationship, her partner punched her in the stomach so hard that she could barely breath on more than one occasion, tried to strangle her, even swiped a candle across a table, resulting in the hot, melted wax flying up and coating her eyes!  Of course, she was apparently always in the way, it was an accident,

So why did she stay?  She felt sorry for him because he had been abused as a child, and she felt because his mother didn’t protect him he was robbed of the chance at living a mentally healthy life.  Her self esteem over a period of time was not in good shape which often leaves us vulnerable to people that at another time, would not be good enough.  Because she wasn’t a happy person at the time, having suffered bouts of depression, her partner convinced her that she was unbearable to live with and therefore pushed him to violence.  During this dark time however, this girl managed to put a smile out to the world and carry out a successful, high profile radio career without anyone knowing what was going on at home, or that there was any reason to question why she once arrived to work with a limp.

We need to stop the judgement for women that find themselves in a violent relationship, and start showing a little more respect and sympathy for another human who no doubt, feels very frightened, mentally and physically hurt, and very, very alone!  For the time these poor victims spend worrying about how they will be judged by people when their story gets out, is precious time they could be getting out of harm’s way.  It doesn’t take an intelligent person to realise that in a violent relationship, every second counts.

(By the way, the girl in this story was me.)


  1. “We need to stop the judgement for women that find themselves in a violent relationship, and start showing a little more respect and sympathy for another human who no doubt, feels very frightened, mentally and physically hurt, and very, very alone! For the time these poor victims spend worrying about how they will be judged by people when their story gets out, is precious time they could be getting out of harm’s way. It doesn’t take an intelligent person to realise that in a violent relationship, every second counts.”

    Here Here Amber !!!!!!! You are a brave and beautiful person !
    Lots of love to you xx

    • Thanks Jane!!! You know I have to say, I had to call the police a number of times and the way they treated me was so so disappointing. They treated me like I was making it up or maybe I was to blame… They never once checked to see if I was ok after. I can see how it continues and that people can even start feeling that it’s just part of life, because the care factor with the people I dealt with, was barely there…..xx

  2. Also that is so awful and disturbing that you were not taken seriously by the police.
    There are so many women (yes and men) who are in this position and feel trapped for what ever reason to the relationship. Im just glad you got out, you knew that it was not your fault and found a way to get out. I hope you have healed yourself of that experience as well as you can. xx

  3. Wow it takes guts to admit that Amber! People who have not experienced it have no idea what it is like to be in their grip. I was in a mentally and physically violent relationship for 7 years. In the beginning he was too good to be true. Gradually he started the abuse (I assume testing his boundaries). Each time he would promise it would never happen again and he would make it up to me, followed by flowers, poetry, massages and the like. Because I was so in love with the wonderful side of him I wanted to believe him. We had 2 kids and a business which I financed (but i had no power over the money… my money). I decided I had to leave after only a few years but took me 7 to choose the right time. I was mainly afraid for my children, afraid I would lose everything I had worked so hard for (which I did). When I did finally leave, he threatened to kill us, so we had to live in hiding for a year. I have not had a relationship since (18 years ago) and still suffer from the mental torture he put me through. The physical violence escalated throughout our relationship, he was 6’3″, I am 5’2″, unspeakable acts of violence and lucky to be alive. Like your relationship, he was abused as a child, plus everything was my fault, after being brainwashed day in, day out I started to believe it. Good on you Amber for putting it out there, a wonderful and highly respected person like yourself being caught up in a situation like that may change they way people view domestic violence. X

    • Oh Linda, so sorry to hear what you went through. I totally get the ‘being in love with the good side’ of him. I was the same. I also felt sorry for him because his mother did not protect him when he was young. She had several partners and one of them I think sexually abused him, as well as from what I can gather physically by more than one, and family members. I went through a patch where I was so so angry with her because i felt that she, not him, had ruined the chance of us being able to have the love that I’d first hoped because he was so damaged. He was also a bit of a user because he’d had to grow up in survival mode the whole time…as did other family members around him. He always saw me as having everything so there was jealousy too that shouldn’t be in a relationship. When I would carry on about his mother and how she should have protected him……he made it clear that he did not want to be angry with her – he put her on a pedalstool. Which I guess was his way of healing and not losing her, but of course then I looked like the bad guy cause I was being negative about his mum. Which I now know was not my place but I was just so sad for that young boy that he was, that because of his upbringing, he would struggle so much in life, and lose alot of love because of it. In hindsight, I would say to someone who was in my place, it’s ok to have empathy for someone, but empathy won’t protect you from danger. And just hoping they’ll lose the ‘dark’ side of their character by hanging in there with them, is NOT going to happen. By the way with you, have your sought help to get over that time? Because it would seem that if you haven’t found love again after all that time, then you’re still being affected by that unhealthy relationship. And I think you deserve to enjoy the right sort of love. x

  4. oh amber I have sat here tonight reading your blog and you have touched on the two subjects that have shaped my life incredibly..

    Many people have no idea of what I endured from the hands of a very violent aggressive man.. I guess if I am honest I am embarrassed that ..that was me.. that was my life.. I lived it, feared it and hated it.. I guess if I am honest I worry that the people who know me now may very well be quite judgmental and not understand why I didn’t leave sooner..

    It was something that became that way, it wasn’t like it in the beginning.. I can describe it .. that once he got his grip on me he let loose..by that time I had a family home that I loved, we were part of a small town community, my children attended a fantastic school and had wonderful friends I loved this part of my lifestyle and hated the rest.. At first I reasoned it was a one off, then once I realized it was more than that I couldn’t see they way out.. I tried leaving.. This is where I feel people need to know the small details, the many tings, the little bits that add up and make a massive picture.. He is a person who has threatened young kids with a loaded gun and got away with it.. he is someone that mixed with very unsavory people and did not fear the police at all.. So when I would leave and he would come find me and threaten to kill me or worse my children.. I believed him.. so I went back and tried very hard to keep the peace.

    Of course it kept happening.. and it got worse .. The turning point came when he had gotten into trouble with the police for threatening life and I had thought that was my answer to being able to leave him.. I hoped he would go to jail .. but he didn’t.. I realized it was never going to stop … there was no way I wanted my son to grow up and even consider doing this to a woman.. and no way I wanted my daughter to grow up and not even once take this from a man.. they both deserved so much more…

    Somehow I got the help of the domestic violence unit and I told him he was moving out and that he was nothing to me.. it was by no means easy not at all.. but once I done it ..it felt fantastic.. he did manage to get me a few times after and I had to face a long lengthy legal battle to ensure he did not have access to my children at all.

    I have lived a life of a fear and worry of the repercussions of leaving him.. but for the most part I live life as if he never happened..

    I am very happily married with a fantastic husband who is very loving & caring, my children are fabulous well adjusted very sensitive happy kids.

    I wish everyone the courage to leave and forge a life for themselves safe and happy

    • Oh my goodness Trudi. That’s absolutely frightening what you went through. That is really a living hell. Mine wasn’t half as complicated or scary as that but of course, it’s not a competition of course, but I wasn’t frightened of my partner of the time outside of these moments as I explained. I felt sorry for him and that was my mistake. But the threat you must have lived under, and fearing for your children….I just can’t imagine the pain in your heart over that. Simply awful. You are really an enormously strong woman with what you’ve been through. And an inspiration no doubt to others. I do understand that feeling though at the time that you worry that your friends will think “oh jesus, what a mess… I thought she was smarter than that to stay iin that relationship?” The stupidest thoughts ever. My friends are wonderful and I highly doubt any of them would do anything but worry. A couple of my closest school friends only found out on the weekend that I’d even been through that. They thought he was so gentle and kind. Which, a part of him was…. But the other part was the damaged, dark side. I think it will be an ongoing issue with women feeling all these things that we have when they find themselves in the same situation. Just like depression, we can help highlight that it happens, that we’ve been through it and survived it…but we will always have to re-address it because there will always people that will endure for some time. So I guess thankfully, I’m not ashamed to discuss it, and nor are you. Saying that though…..are you ok for me to post your story or would you like to keep it private?xx

  5. Hi Amber, I too am a survivor of domestic and family violence. I left my exhusband on several occasions and each time he promised,vowed and declared that he would get help with his anger and violence, however each time we reconciled he never followed through, only to escalate his violence and abuse. He was very clever and never left visible marks on me or our children. He works for corrections and just knew how to threaten and intimidate me. He always said that he was part of the system and if ever I left him he would make sure that I never saw my children again. It was always my fault that he drank so much and if only I would do as I was told everything would be fine.
    One Sunday morning after one of my birthday celebrations with my family, he really lost it and physically abused one of our children aged 7. Our Doctor mandatory notified him on the child abuse line and my son was category 1. It took the police, families SA and investigation officers 5 days to arrest him. It took over 18 months for his trial to end and all he was given was a 2 year good behaviour bond and right to the end blamed our son for the belting he got. And now for the best bit! The family court has given him unsupervised access to his children. He told them he was “cured” and they believed him! Even when he “manhandled” and left more bruising on the same child, the police officer on the day said that he didnt think there was much in it and, even though he was on the bond didnt persue it. Families SA had contacted me and were expecting an arrest after the school had made a mandatory notification. I was told that even murderers have rights to see their children. Its now 6 years and 2 of the children are now living with him and his new partner (She is just as abusive if not more towards me and the children). They have what I would describe as classic Stockholm Syndrome. The younger two children dont want to go to his place anymore but he insists that they do. He even makes them get out of their sick beds because he has a court order that says they go there on those days. He doesnt want the kids but he doesnt want me to have them either.
    I am so blessed to have the friends that I do. They have been so supportive and at times I thought it would have been easier to stay with him and they have reminded me how much better off I am now. I remember thinking just before the assault on my son that no-one would miss me if I wasnt here. I dont think I have ever been that low. I have clawed my way back up. I divorced “the tumour” thus excising him from my life. He and his new partner are still quite abusive towards me and the children and I just pray that my children stay safe each time they are with them. Soon they will be old enough to have a say.
    I continue my journey and have become passionate about trying to raise the awareness of Domestic and Family violence. I have joined the local Domestic Violence action group. We hold forums open to the community and DV workers. Our last one was in July and it was a wonderful success. Each year,we hold a white ribbon event on the 25th November to acknowledge the International day for the stoppping of violence against women.
    There have been changes to legislation which are yet to be implementd and they seem to be more supportive of the victims. Any change that supports the (usually) women and children can only be a positive step towards making them feel blamed for their partners problems with abuse and violence.

  6. Dear Amber,
    Thank you so much for the article published in the Sunday Telegraph. It made me cry.
    I was in an abusive – verbal, emotional and on occasion, physical – relationship for 23 years. I was married to him for over 20 of those years. I never told a soul about things until I confided to a friend just over 2 years ago. It was the best thing I could do as it gave me the strength to finally get it out in the open and end my marriage. My ex became increasingly worse in the last 5 years of our marriage and took to drinking heavily as well which made his abusive episodes more frequent and more intense. In the end he began to abuse our three children (who were all teenagers by this stage) who started to stand up to him and defend me and that is when I decided that things couldn’t continue.
    I wanted to help him and up until then still believed his lies ‘that he would change’ and ‘that he would never do it again’, ‘that he was so sorry’ and ‘that he loved me so much’.
    Abusive men live in denial. They lie, they alter facts to suit their stories, they cover-up, they blame every one else (mainly their partners – and in my case, he blamed his kids as well). They create an image of themselves that they want everyone else to believe and work overtime to keep that image in place. This is why so many of their friends simply don’t believe that they could possibly be abusive.
    I have read a lot of books on the subject, done a lot of research and had counselling. Nothing helped me as much as a book called ‘Why Does He Do That – inside the minds of angry and controlling men’ by Lundy Bancroft. The book is available on the internet. The author runs centres for abusive men in America. He has done so for the past 15 years. He knows every thing there is to know about abusive men and nothing escapes his eye. He knows all of their tricks and every excuse they come up with. This book finally put eveything into perspective and made me realise that I could not help my ex-husband, no matter how much I wanted to. It made me see this man for the dreadful person that he is and to realise that none of it was my fault (even though my ex STILL blames me for everything!)
    I am very fortunate in that I have a wonderful circle of friends, family and 3 amazing children who continue to support and encourage me in everything.
    The past 2 years have been incredibly difficult and emotionally exhausting. My ex continues to make my life hell and this will not be alleviated until our house finally sells and I can move on properly. He remarried (for the 3rd time) 2 months after our divorce came through (3 months ago) to a woman 20 years younger than him who he started dating 6 weeks after he moved out of our home. He has known her for barely 12 months. Our children have not even met her. I can only feel great sympathy for her as I know that he would have already started his abusive behaviour with her. They never change and their behaviour is always repeated in their relationships.
    It’s time that more was done about abusive men. There is so much of this out there that we do hear about – just imagine how much there is that we don’t hear about.

    • Well done on telling your story Lee! And giving all the helpful information you have, including that book. Sounds like something many of us should read. I do feel sorry for this new partner of his too. I have no doubt, as my ex did, he’ll have told her that you were a pyscho, you were to blame, ra ra ra. Mine did that to me when I first moved to Adelaide. He was lying and cheating with other women behind my back, and many of them just believed him. Silly young women that looked and him and thought “wow he’s hot”, and looked at me and thought “she looks up herself cause she’s on radio, I bet she’s a bitch”. Just such lazy and immature analogies of course. but it was hurtful as I knew that not only was he badmouthing and ruining my reputation, he was or had also abused me. Sure I was not happy, and angry about the fact our relationship was bad (he was a sex addict as well), but how does that become an excuse to physically harm another human being? Those stupid dopey girls needed to be a fly on the wall and see how sexy they thought a man that could punch a woman in the stomach or throw her on the ground and smash her head on the concrete really is. There are so many women willing to believe a guy before they believe the girl. My ex pushed his pregnant girlfriend before me, and strangled the girl that came next. He’s living somewhere on the Gold Coast, and I have no doubt, will have told his new girl that I was a pyscho, probably never mentioned the others, and will eventually, if not already, give her a thump that she’ll never expect from the man that pretends to be very earthy and spiritual. But bottom line full of crap, and rage.

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