Crying out for help

A PERTH woman who survived a violent relationship for 10 years says the WA government isn’t doing enough to prevent young women from heading down the same track she did.

“I wish more young girls knew what I know now,” says Katie (not real name).

“They need to know when to leave and do it right away, not years down the track like I did.

“More needs to be done for kids and youth to increase understanding about equality and respectful relationships.” she says.

“I don’t want [my daughter] having the slightest chance to enter into a relationship similar to what I did.”

Two weeks ago the McGowan government released its 2019 Women’s Report Card, which found that the number of battered wives seeking help from WA’s homelessness agencies had increased by more than 10 per cent in the last six years.

Women’s minister Simone McGurk says they’ve rolled out national domestic violence organisation Our Watch’s school program in 10 schools, with plans to expand it to all state schools.

But she acknowledges current approaches to domestic violence have tended to be “crisis-driven” rather than preventative.

Violated

Katie said her relationship had an undercurrent of disrespect, and behind closed doors it became violent within months. She said the violence would often come on quickly – a side-effect of his disrespect.

“Our interactions were mostly him subtly putting me down and ‘gaslighting’ in all sorts of ways while I tried to prove myself back to him.

“I felt violated, but didn’t do anything to get myself out.”

Katie feels the biggest mistake in her relationship was thinking she could convince her abusive partner to treat her well.

“I tried to convince him that what he was doing to me wasn’t right. When I [did that] he blew up and it came out of nowhere,” she says.

“He would pin me up against a wall, choke me, literally kick me out of bed, and lock me out of the house for hours at a time.

“Once, he kicked me in the guts so hard that it took the wind out of me. He had me in headlocks from behind countless times to prevent me from calling the police.

“When things get violent and there are reunions, things get quite addictive quite quickly after that,” she says.

Ms McGurk says the government is also putting together a 10-year domestic violence strategy.

“Part of that is better tracking of survivors on DV and feedback from that,” Ms McGurk said.

“Prior to our watch the state government did very little towards domestic violence – they didn’t do anything new. I feel the sector’s really happy with what we’re giving them now.”

Recently trauma survivors support group Angelhands received a $350,000 grant from Lotterywest . “It’s a start, but it might not be enough to cover all the women and girls across the state,” says Katie.

by TATIANA DALIN

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