Battered woman’s only thought: ‘I’m going to die’

HELD in a chokehold by the man who was supposed to love her, a white, educated woman in her early thirties was struggling to breathe, her only thought was "this is it, I'm going to die".

Domestic violence doesn't discriminate based on looks and status, but your access to help was different, according to the Rockhampton woman who wished to remain anonymous.

"I would consider myself one of the lucky ones," she said.

"I had an informed support network."

Her partner hit her over the head with a pillow and punched her in the face after she offered to make him a sandwich - when she tried to gather her things to leave he choked her.

The incident happened in 2016, months after she moved to Rockhampton to be with the man she had been dating long-distance for six months.

"Because I was living away I didn't realise he was an alcoholic," she said

"After a couple of months I realised this guy had a problem, but I was pretty hooked in."

She said in hindsight the emotional manipulation started quickly after she moved.

"He had young kids and it sounds silly but I thought I could save him," she said.

"It's really hard to describe how hard the emotional abuse is and the gaslighting makes you feel like you're going crazy.

"I became very isolated from my friends."

Verbal abuse became a regular occurrence, especially when he was drinking.

"Multiple occasions I would say 'that's it im leaving' and then he would get better for a while," she said.

She never thought he would hit her - until he did - and that was the "last straw".

"I was able to cut contact," she said.

While she was able to escape to the support of her friends and family, her experienced has proved to her how the system was stacked against the victims.

"I was never going to go to the police," she said.

"I was terrified of the process because I knew how drawn out it can be, but friends and family said 'you have to do that, it could prevent him to doing that to another person'."

Her fears became her reality as the next 2.5 years of her life became filled with police appointments and court dates.

"Going through the court case is pretty horrific," she said.

"You have to give your statement to the police, you have to go back several times and then you get subpoenaed and then you get a court date and then it gets cancelled.

"Every time that happened it was this whole emotional build up and bringing up all those feelings of fear and anger."

The time frame between domestic violence reports and court dates needs to be reduced for the sake of the victim, according to the women who is a registered nurse.

"The courts seem to do their best to keep people out of prison," she said.

While she waited for her court date, her offender broke his DV order twice.

"He attempted to contact me through another person and the second time he posted naked pictures of me on Facebook," she said.

By the time the case was heard in court she had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

"I used to be quite outgoing and make lots of friends but I don't do that anymore," she said.

Since the incident she hasn't been able to wear high neck shirts and she's "really jumpy".

Her offender's sentence was another let down - he received a suspended sentence because he was the sole carer of his children.

"Children are not meant to be taken into consideration ... those children could have easily gone and lived with their grandmother," she said.

"Someone who is violent, an alcoholic, has a problem with drugs, to say they're fit to be a parent without intervention (is wrong).

"What's going to happen to those kids?"

She said the system needed harsher sentences for perpetrators with rehabilitation made a priority.

"There needs to be mandated anger management and people actually following it up and making sure it happens," she said.

"It's all very well and good that you put people in prison but without these problems people aren't going to change."

She also said there needed to be more shelters for victims to escape to.

She said to stop the "domestic violence epidemic" the community had to work together to keep the conversation going and to hold offenders to account.