Domestic violence: a survivor’s story
Posted on November 23, 2014
5 min read
Telstra is launching a new program in partnership with the Women’s Services Network (WESNET) to provide women impacted by domestic violence with access to a new smartphone, pre-paid credit and information on the safe use of technology.
“Trudy”, a domestic violence survivor, shares her experience of domestic violence and the importance of having access to safe and secure communications to remain connected with family, friends and essential services.
I was young when I first met my partner and I was quite swept off my feet. We got married after a short courtship and had a couple of children early on. There were warning signs that I really should have picked up on, but I didn’t acknowledge the signs until after I had children and his personality became more controlling. His manner and his behaviour was a lot stronger.
Throughout the marriage he got quite aggressive with me. It started off with expressions of anger in the way he spoke to me. Then he also got violent. This diminished all my strength and I became more submissive.
I started to realise that his behaviour was not normal, particularly in public situations, whether it be in a restaurant, with family or even just walking in the street. His controlling behaviour put me into a position that I felt very uncomfortable. His behaviour was quite erratic. My whole body would shiver. I was scared, upset, and fearful.
I wasn’t one to fight or create a fuss and I didn’t have the strength to confront him, so I spent most of our marriage – which lasted decades – in a very compromised situation.
Having children was a good distraction for me. I put my whole life into my children. I also valued the time I had while he was at work, as I was free to be myself during the day. But then he started to know exactly where I was on certain days when he was at work. A friend helped me to figure out that he’d installed an application on my phone that gave him information about where I was. I didn’t realise there were applications that show where you are, your location and suburb. When I realised my phone was being monitored I was not only devastated that I had lost all of my freedom, I was scared.
When I left him, the intimidation and bullying through mobile phone and email became very unsettling and powerful. He even tried to intimidate members of my family online. I had to block him in my phone settings and also block him from my email and the email addresses of family members.
With the help of friends and support organisations I collected evidence that helped me get through this dark period. I kept a diary. I took screen shots of my mobile phone. I documented everything that he had done.
I’m not tech savvy but I’m still aware enough to collect that sort of evidence because I just didn’t know what was going to happen. I needed to take the power away from him so I could live my life again.
For me to get out, I had to think of a plan – both financially and a way to protect myself as well as my children and my family. I had to have strategies in place that were going to help me have a life and actually believe that there was a life after what I had gone through.
The person that I am now in comparison to then is completely different. The strength and confidence I have gained since leaving surpasses anything previously.
I think this new program that Telstra and WESNET are launching is really important. If I had access to safety information and a new personal mobile phone to call family and friends on without being monitored, it would definitely have helped in my situation.
Being controlled and disempowered in a relationship can happen to anybody. The stigma that is still attached to domestic violence means people are hesitant to talk about it and open up. They need to feel safe, secure and confident that they are not being monitored.
My advice to anyone experiencing a similar situation is don’t be embarrassed or scared to seek help. There is a lot of information out there now and many organisations that can help. When it comes to making decisions: it’s your life, it’s your children’s life. Communicate with people who can help you, gather documents, save text messages and keep a log of everything. Gather information that will give you the strength to get out of your situation.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence:
- In an emergency call the police on 000
- Call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) to speak with a trained counselor from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service
- Access online counselling at 1800respect.org.au
About Safe Connections
Safe Connections is a new initiative under Telstra’s ‘Everyone Connected’ program, which includes our work with community organisations to address the communications needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians.
Telstra is also a proud supporter of White Ribbon, a male led campaign to end men’s violence against women. As a White Ribbon accredited workplace, we will continue to take active steps to stop violence against women including advocating on the issue.