Content warning: The following account of lived experience contains references to trauma and abuse which some may find confronting or distressing. We encourage self-care and discretion when engaging with these materials.
Looking back now I can see I was the target of a slow, insidious manipulation that stripped me of any independence and made me completely dependent on him. But by the time I figured out what was going on I was pregnant and I couldn’t get out.”
Growing up in a home free of violence, sexism or misogyny, Sarah* never envisaged she would find herself trapped in a violent, abusive relationship.
As a child her family had encouraged her to pursue her dreams which led her to embrace her creative side, earning a Diploma in Visual Arts. Sarah then achieved a Bachelor of Applied Sciences and became a chemist.
But Sarah’s life had been dogged by repeat bouts of persistent and ongoing pain from a childhood immune deficiency which was disregarded and misdiagnosed for several years. When it was finally correctly diagnosed Sarah was immensely relieved.
That’s when he came into her life. “I was love bombed,” Sarah says.
It wasn’t long until he convinced Sarah to move in with him, which resulted in a loss of her disability support pension, her own living space, and her independence.
“The first time he yelled at me I didn’t know what to do. I’d never been yelled at like that before. But then he apologised and said it would never happen again, though he made sure to let me know it had been my fault in some way.”
“That’s how it started. And it was the same cycle repeated over and over again. I didn’t tell anyone. I was so scared and so ashamed.”
“Looking back now I can see I was the target of a slow, insidious manipulation that stripped me of any independence and made me completely dependent on him. But by the time I figured out what was going on I was pregnant and I couldn’t get out.”
The tipping point came for Sarah when her daughter reached an age where she could no longer hide or shelter her from the violence in the household.
“I was desperate to reclaim a life for myself, and to model for my daughter what a strong woman looks like. I took on a major 18-month art project, all about rebirth and hope. I think it saved my sanity.”
“I found my strength. I left and I took my daughter with me. My love for my daughter was bigger than the shame, so I told my family and I told my best friends, who rallied around me and helped me.”
“Telling my family set me free. I phoned the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service [BDVS] and I’m so glad I did.”
Rachel, one of [Micah Projects'] BDVS team members was amazing. She helped me understand I wasn’t alone. She gave me information and knowledge, she empowered me to express myself and gave me the courage to speak to the police.
“The BDVS team held me up in a time when I needed it most. They kept me moving forward, and helped me with practical support like making safety plans. The support sessions gave me something to look forward to, and I always left them feeling on top of the world.”
“It meant the world to me when Micah asked me to be an ambassador as part of the Resound group: a group dedicated to sharing the voices of experience in the area of domestic and family violence.”
“It gave me confidence that I could make a change for people in circumstances similar to mine. And working on a submission to parliament regarding potential law changes in Queensland introduced me to a new career goal I never knew I had.”
Since becoming a part of the Resound group Sarah has enrolled in a Bachelor of Law course, and hopes to one day be directly involved in shaping future legislation as part of the Queensland Parliament.
“I know what it is like to live with domestic and family violence. I know it can happen to any woman, and I know about the issues and challenges in the current system, which I want to help change.”
“If it wasn’t for Micah I wouldn’t be studying law, I wouldn’t have my confidence back and I wouldn’t be so committed to helping people.”
*Sarah’s name has been changed to protect her identity.