Community & Business

16 May, 2024

A victim’s story to become a survivor

WHAT Claudia (name changed for privacy) thought was the perfect love story turned into a nightmare as violence snuck through the cracks of her relationship.

A victim’s story to become a survivor - feature photo

For 15 years, her partner physically, verbally, emotionally, sexually and financially abused her and had her trapped in a situation where she felt she could never leave. 

With two children to care for, she didn’t know whether it was safer for her to stay or leave. 

“Now I have left, I can see the manipulation and narcissist behaviour was there from the beginning,” she said.

 “He would say ‘If you love me, you will….’, ‘You know such and such would do it’, ‘why do you make me so angry’ and ‘you don’t want to make me mad’.

“Just to keep the peace, I would constantly apologise.

“The relationship ended on four different occasions ... but I was always drawn back to that perfect family and (I wanted) my children to have a father no matter how unhappy I was.

“I will never forgive myself for going back, but I wouldn’t have my babies if I didn’t. 

“I used to think the ideal family isn’t a broken one. You do what you have do to make it happen. 

“But now I see that isn’t true at all. Not all happy families have to have two parents. I was scared to leave. The thoughts were ‘how can I do this on my own? How can I afford it? No one will want me again as a single parent!’ So many thoughts ran through my head.” 

Despite feeling alone and lost, Claudia kept her head high, hoping her children would have the perfect home life. 

Eventually, it was the children who convinced her to leave. 

“The final straw was when I was told ‘Mum you deserve better! You need to leave!’ by my own children. Other people had said it to me before, but coming from them broke me,” she said. 

“I didn’t want them growing up thinking it was okay to be called names and abused daily or that in a two-parent household, everything was the mother’s job. No way! My children deserve a happy mum, not a miserable, anxious and angry mum. 

“That was my moment. I called my friends and family and told them what I was doing and they were ready to go and help with what they could. 

“I was done. I wasn’t anxious, upset, angry, anything. I was just done!

“I stood my ground. I didn’t fall for the ‘if you leave, I’m going to kill myself; if you leave, I’m taking the kids, you're breaking up our family, I love you’.”

The constant abuse faced by Claudia and her children will likely affect them for the rest of their lives.

Now out of the abusive home, they are working on themselves, and Claudia is teaching her children the importance of respecting women in the home. 

“Now I have left, I can see the manipulation and narcissist behaviour was there from the beginning”

“I can see behaviours in one of my children that (my abuser) used to do to me all the time,” she said.

“My child is getting a lot better with how they treat and respect women but all of my children are pretty messed up emotionally now. 

“With the support they are receiving, they are getting better every week and I’m proud and happy with how far they have all come. 

“The older children did see and hear a lot of it even when I thought they didn’t and it was them who helped me in my decision. 

“It’s only been a few years, but life is fantastic now. We are all happy and healthy and doing what we do best - loving life. 

“We are going on adventures we never could before. I am now debt-free. 

“I would never want to be in a situation like that again ever and I never want my children to be either. We do have days when everything is a mess, but we work together and help each other as a family is meant to.

“My message is being in a DV situation isn’t all about physical violence. It can be emotional, financial, or mental abuse. 

“It can be something as simple as pure manipulation. If you have to second guess anything in your relationship or feel you might be in a DV relationship, please speak to someone who you can trust. 

“There will be more people out there to help you than you think. You are worth more than you think.”

If you are or know of someone experiencing DFV please call Women’s Centre FNQ on 4091 5100, Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service/ Mareeba branch 4092 3290 or 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for 24-hour support.


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