SURVIVOR'S STORY: Just one of 27,000 cases in Queensland
WHILE Jenny* was sitting inside Maryborough Hospital with her sick infant son, she unknowingly let her phone go to voicemail while she spoke to the doctor.
On the other end of the call was her former partner, Kevin*.
What happened next would change the course of her life.
Jenny, a mother in her early 30s, had been abused by Kevin since the early stages of their relationship and was led on by false promises of counselling and "getting help".
She held on to the hope that Kevin would do as he said, so she never reported it.
That was until the father of her child stormed into the hospital's emergency department and hit her in the head.
This wasn't a first, but it was the first time there were witnesses.
NEW SOUTH WALES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
Jenny, whose name we have changed, shared her story with the Fraser Coast Chronicle ahead of November 23, White Ribbon Day, in the hope she will inspire others to leave abusive relationships.
The hospital attack resulted in a domestic violence protection order and Jenny's situation was brought to the attention of police.
Sitting in her Maryborough home, Jenny told the Chronicle how she fell in love with a man who was "perfect".
"It started off with him doing things, then pretending he didn't," she said.
"When I was pregnant and we were having an argument and I was trying to leave the house and he elbowed me in the stomach really hard.
"I got really upset about it because I was pregnant and I was excited to have my baby."
These little "accidents" escalated until one day Jenny attempted to walk away from an argument.
She woke up on the ground with Kevin's hands around her throat.
"I didn't know how I got down there so afterwards I asked him if he hit me and he said 'I don't remember, I blanked out' but later on he admitted he did hit me," Jenny said.
"As he started doing nastier things more often, then he didn't bother trying to deny it any more. It was normal."
Jenny said she knew it was abuse.
"He had me convinced he really wanted to change and I clung to that," she said.
"He would go to the psychologist and go and get his medication checked and then he would stop.
"It wasn't until I had that light bulb moment when I realised this is who he is and it is never going to change."
Jenny endured knife threats, controlling behaviour, separation from her family and friends and intimidation before that "moment" came.
"What I believe is the person I met and fell in love with is not actually who he was," she said.
"He would punch me in the head and body and he even said to me later while we were good 'I'm not stupid I would never hit you in the face where people could see it'.
He said that to my face as a joke when we were good but I didn't want to start an argument over it."
Kevin was the respondent in a DV protection order for six months before another witness saw the abuse.
"He came home from work and me and the little fella were asleep on the bed and he started punching into me," Jenny said.
"We were still together so I didn't dob him in but the neighbour saw everything which happened outside and he called the police.
"I'm glad that happened now because at the time I would not have told them the truth."
This attack meant Kevin walked away from court with a three-month suspended sentence, an outcome which Jenny didn't feel was justice.
"He is a big guy, I don't think the sentence was fair especially given his previous actions," she said.
"With his abilities, I have no hope in hell against him and neither do most grown men.
"The only thing that helped that day was the neighbour and I don't know what would have happened without him stepping in."
Now out of the relationship, Jenny is working on her own recovery and said DV helplines gave her a lifeline when she was most vulnerable.
Jenny's story is just one of the 1,880 DVO breaches in Wide Bay and the 26,933 in Queensland in the past year, a sobering reminder domestic violence is a silent scourge in our community.
*Names have been changed to protect the victim.
- DV Connect Mensline: 1800 600 636
- DV Connect Womensline: 1800 811 811
- "Yoorana" Women's Domestic Violence & Resource Service Inc: 4125 5788
- Centracare (domestic and family violence centre): 4196 9777
- Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre: 4194 3000
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732
- Kids Help Line: 1800 551 800
- Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
- Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline: 1800 019 123
The article was originally published stating there were 26,933 breaches of domestic violence protection orders in Wide bay however has been corrected to 26,933 breaches of domestic violence protection orders in Queensland.