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Living a Nightmare

One man shares his story of living with Domestic Violence 

On the 19th of June, 2012 shortly before 1am, my 2 ½ year old boy woke with a wet nappy. Normally I would jump up and take care of him but for the previous 4 nights he had been sick with a gastro bug which took a minimum of 10 nappy changes a night.

I did 80% of these and was, understandably buggered so I asked his mother to tend to him and to my surprise she agreed. I knew that we had run out of wet wipes so I told her that they were outside the cabin she would need get them. Her reply was “Well f*%k that, you can do it”. Not surprised by this, I got out of bed I murmured how I thought she was a lazy bitch. These words would have a chain reaction that I never dreamed of happening.

As I was heading down the little corridor towards the front door to get on with nappy changing duties, she came running at me from behind. Let me explain that this had become somewhat a ‘normal’ behaviour in our relationship, she had done this on several other occasions previously. She would come at me from behind and then launch at me and bite my neck/shoulder muscle. I heard her coming and turned to defend myself and pushed her down to the floor pre-launch and I am not proud of this but I didn’t know what else to do to keep her away.

I continued to head to my car to get the wipes and as I went to close the door, I felt a really strange sensation in my shoulder and lower back. I turned around and instantly dropped to my knees, I was in agony and was having difficulty breathing. I didn’t know what was happening or why?

I heard her screeching and asked her to turn the light on, which she did. Once the light was on, I noticed blood splatted on the floor in front of me and I remember thinking this is not going to end well! The pain hit me full force and as I pulled my shirt away from chest to inspect what had happened and I saw her smiling at me. I knew in that moment she had stabbed me.

I buckled again and went into shock. A shock reaction is how your body tells you of the severity of your trauma. I had never experienced such a severe and intense shock reaction and that is when I started to become frightened. Up till then I just

thought ‘ Well I’m definitely going to need a bloody doctor this time’.

I realised that I was losing blood faster than was good. I got to my feet and kneeled with my head on my elbow on a small couch that was there, my other hand was covering my front wound in an attempt to put pressure on it. I concentrated on slowing my breathing to get my heart rate down and slow the loss of blood. She phoned her mother first and when she got off the phone she asked me if I wanted and ambulance, to which I replied “YES!”.

I knew somehow that I needed to stay conscious and put everything into breathing as slowly and deeply as I could as well as keeping my wits about me. I wonder how long it has been since the ambulance had been called, it felt like forever and then suddenly the door was thrown open and a voice yelled “Where’s the knife? Where’s the knife?”, it was a police officer and he literally leaped inside the door. As soon as I saw him, I knew the ambulance would be right behind him and I just let go. Next thing I remember is being wheeled out the door on a gurney and hearing a voice say “Look at how far up the blade goes!”. I found out later that it took the ambulance approximately 25 minutes to get to me.

I was in a critical condition. The knife had penetrated my liver and gall bladder. As soon as I arrived at the hospital, I was immediately taken in for emergency surgery which saved my life. The surgery involved a laparotomy (which is when they cut you open from your belly button to your sternum and remove your insides and inspect and repair the damage. The surgeons then put it all back and sow and staple your tummy together). I had over a litre and a half of blood that had collected internally on top of the copious amount of blood which I had already lost due to the injury. Because of the massive blood loss I had encountered, I was not expected to survive the night.

I woke up and started to choke, this was because of the life support I was on, a voice told me to stay calm and the tube was slowly removed from my throat. Once I could breathe ok, I opened my eyes and re-joined the land of the living. I was in the ICU, at the wonderful Goulburn Valley Base Hospital in Shepparton. I spent about 3 days in the ICU.

No-one had informed my Mum or Dad what had happened to me and I did this from my hospital bed. It must have been terrifying for them as they didn’t even

recognise my voice. I was transferred to a surgical ward and put on hourly observation. I was being given pain medication and a cocktail of other pills. I had a tube in each side of my belly to drain the blood and bile out of my upper abdomen. I was on oxygen, was catheterised and cannulated in each arm. The cannulas had left marks in this short time and the worst thing was, that evil woman had put in an affidavit stating that the scarring was from heavy illicit drug use!

After nearly a week in hospital I still had bile leakage into my upper abdomen and it was up to a litre a day. This was also quite dangerous as I went into tachycardia (a resting heart rate of 180 bpm). My right lung had also partially collapsed, which was extremely painful. I underwent a second laparotomy to fix the bile leak issue and they also removed my gall bladder and appendix. After this surgery, I was transferred to the Box Hill Hospital. The staff were fantastic, they managed to stabilise my condition and they inserted a stent in my liver, which fixed the bile leak. I spent several more days at the Box Hill Hospital.

My Mum turned up during this time. She had jumped in her car and driven to Melbourne from the Gold Coast by herself at 63 years of age! What a Woman! I was so grateful to have a familiar face around to care for me. Everyone needs someone when the have experience this level of trauma. I was transferred back to Goulburn Valley Base Hospital and a little under a week later was discharged with 28 metal staples and uncounted stitches in my belly.

I had not seen my kids in all this time. The Department of Human Services had taken the kids from their mother’s care and they were now in foster care. I was forced to have supervised access for the next three months due to their mother and grandmother accusing me of being violent, mentally ill, drug addicted, an alcoholic and the best one was that I was a woman and child abuser. I couldn’t believe it.

Unfortunately, these lies were accepted with very little evidence and I was never given the chance to tell my side of the story. I was treated like a criminal. She had made my life a living hell. She didn’t spend a single day in jail for what she did to me. But if the tables were turned, I fear that my fate would have been much worse than what she experienced. We had our day in court and she was given a 1-year community corrections order for her crime of Intentionally causing Serious Injury. I was horrified, were they kidding! We successfully appealed the sentence on the

grounds of Manifestly Inadequate Sentence and she was re-sentenced to 100 hours of community service and a 3-year community corrections order. This was the best result I could hope for as she was apparently remorseful!

I can remember our conversation clearly when she told me that she wishes she would had killed me, then I wouldn’t be trying to steal her children. Her children, was she joking. She was given custody of our children and used them against me whenever she could.

I found out that she started seeing someone while I was still in hospital. She is now in a relationship with this man and they have a 6 month old son together. What hurts the most is that she encourages our children to call him Dad! I am their father and nothing can replace the love I have for my children and step-children. I know I am a good father and my concerns are purely for the welfare of my kids. I have been a single Dad to my oldest son for over 12 years, since he was eight months old. I am more than capable of bringing these boys up to be good men. Statically children that grow up in abusive environments usually repeat the patterns that they were raised in and I will fight for them to have a better life than that.

The stigma around men being abused by women is frightening. Many men are in abusive relationships and are too scared or ashamed to say or do anything about it. Men are expected to control or dominate and be the stronger partner in relationship which is not true. Male victims of domestic violence are real and we have to stand together to raise awareness around this issue to help breakdown the stereotypes in our society. I have learned a lot from the relationship I was in and the domestic violence I lived with. All that she did to me and all happened to me has made me a stronger and better person in the long run. I know my worth and will never tolerate this type of behaviour from someone that claims to love me. For that I am forever thankful.

I am sharing my story to help raise awareness around domestic violence against men. I cannot bear to think that my sons or yours will think it is ok to be treated like this.

Some interesting facts around male victims of domestic violence sourced from www.oneinthree.com.au:

* At least one in three victims of family violence is male

* One male is a victim of domestic homicide every 10 days

* Almost one in four young people are aware of their mum/stepmum hitting their dad/stepdad

* Male and female victims of reported domestic assault receive very similar numbers and types of injuries

* Men who have experienced partner violence are 2 to 3 times more likely than women to have never told anybody about it

* Post-separation, similar proportions of men and women report experiencing physical violence including threats by their former spouse

MensLine Australia is the national telephone and online support, information and referral service for men with family and relationship concerns. The service is available from anywhere in Australia and is staffed by professional counsellors, experienced in men’s issues. MensLine is a 24/7 service and you can reach them by calling 1300 78 99 78.

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