A woman who has not only experienced domestic violence herself, but who also lost a family member at the hands of a violent partner, will be one of the guest speakers at this Friday’s Moreton Bay Says No to Violence March.
Sheree (last name withheld) will bravely share how she had the courage to leave her second husband and rebuilt her life, while also touching on the tragic circumstances of how her niece lost her life after “the man she loved slit her throat”.
For Sheree, her experience with domestic violence began in 1995, during her second marriage.
“Many believe that domestic violence consists of someone causing physical harm to another person, but it is so much more than that,” Sheree says.
“Domestic violence has so many other levels - it is about intimidation and instilling fear into another human being.
“It includes, but is not necessarily limited to, sexual abuse, verbal abuse and or threats; threats to harm other family members, pets, or property; as well as financial deprivation and social isolation.
“All this is done by one person towards another with the end goal being to control by fear.
“The person being controlled lives in a constant state of emotional stress and instability.
“As a married woman, my second husband subjected me to most of the abuses mentioned above."
During that time, Sheree was still able to connect with close family and friends, but she did not disclose what was happening in her marriage.
“I did not share information about my life of abuse with the people closest to me. Why? Because I felt embarrassed. I was ashamed to admit that my situation was this bad,” Sheree says.
“I also felt guilty, and I felt that I was a failure as a woman and as a mother.
“How could I have been so blind…so stupid to fall into this kind of trap?”
Looking back on that period of her life, Sheree says she experienced depression and an emotionally out of balance state of mind, which meant she struggled to get through each day.
“There are men like my husband who are drawn to people in such a disoriented state of being. People whom they consider ‘vulnerable’ are right for the picking,” Sheree explains.
“They see that person as someone whom they can take control of. They may not be able to control what happens in their own lives, but it gives them a false feeling of greatness to have power to control the life of someone else.”
After five years in the marriage, Sheree found the strength to leave.
But at one stage, like many others, she even considered going back to the relationship.
“Months later, even after leaving the region, I almost went back,” Sheree says.
“But all that changed, thanks to someone I barely knew. That’s when my true inner strength re-awakened.
“I once again met the real me. I found the person I had always been - the me who had been gone so long.
“To this day I ask myself why on earth would I have ever considered going back?
“The answer to that question still remains a mystery to me today.”
Heartbreak of losing her niece
Roughly 11 years after leaving her husband, Sheree tragically lost her niece Kylie, who was in a physically abusive and violent relationship.
“During the time Kylie and her partner were together, he went to jail for three months - he was sentenced for being far too physically violent with her," Sheree says.
“During his time away, Kylie’s parents and brothers pleaded with her to leave, as they all saw it as an ideal opportunity for her to start a new life without him.
“My niece responded with a simple “but I love him” response so she stayed, and she waited.
“Sometime during the night of the 21st of January 2011, Kylie’s life came to an abrupt end, as the man she loved slit her throat.
“She was only 35 years old, and she left behind a beautiful 16-year-old daughter.”
Reach out for help
By speaking at the Moreton Bay Says No to Violence March, Sheree hopes her story offers hope to others who might be facing familiar ordeals.
Sheree encourages anyone who feel they might be the victim of domestic violence to reach out before it is too late.
“If someone is experiencing some form of domestic abuse, please know that there is always somewhere to go. There is always someone to help,” Sheree says.
“The first step towards change and freedom, is yours, and yours alone. You do not have to be alone and afraid. Just reach out.
“On the other hand, you may know a person you suspect who could be in an abusive situation. Don’t take it upon yourself to start asking questions. They may not want to talk, or they are just too terrified to do so because of repercussions.
“Just be there from time to time for that person. A friendly smile over a cuppa can be a welcome emotional shelter and safe breathing space from mayhem at home.”
Anybody can experience abuse
Sheree says anybody can experience abuse, regardless of whether it is in the home, office or school.
“Not all abusers are men and partners in a relationship. Abusers can be women, mums and dads, sons and daughters, work colleagues, people in positions of trust or friends and carers,” Sheree says.
“Abuse is also, not limited to just in the home environment, as it can occur in any of the above-mentioned situations.
“Unfortunately, in these modern times, it has even extended into social media. Bullying is still abuse. It is about causing emotional instability and fear in the one being bullied, and has sadly, resulted in the deaths of many, especially among our younger people.”
A peaceful march
Anyone who would like to participate in the Moreton Bay Says No to Violence march is encouraged to register their support and download posters and social media tiles at www.mbsn2v.com.au
The march will be held on Friday, October 14.
People are encouraged to arrive at Rotary Park, 186 Redcliffe Parade, at 8.30am for a 9am step off.
The march will finish at the Redcliffe Settlement Cove Ampitheatre, with the event to conclude at 11am.
Support line services
If you or someone you know needs help, you can reach out to the following organisations:
- 1800RESPECT – 1800 737 732
- Womensline – 1800 811 811 – Call 24/7
- Mensline – 1800 600 636 – Call between 9am-midnight, 7 days a week
- Sexual Assault Helpline – 1800 010 120 – Call between 7.30am-11.30pm, 7 days a week
- Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au
Sheree was invited by Encircle Neighbourhood Centre to speak at the event.
Encircle also have trained and qualified counsellors who specalise in this field.
There are three neighbourhood centres across the region which Encircle run, including Pine Rivers, Kallangur and Redcliffe.
All neighbourhood centres are open 9am-3pm every Monday to Friday
Click here to find a centre near you.
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