My journey with domestic abuse | Mildura Intimate Photography
EVEN before COVID-19 diverted our lives drastically this year, violence against girls and women had reached pandemic proportions.
Worldwide, 243 million girls and women have been abused by an intimate partner in the last 12 months.
Forty percent of these females don't report it or seek help.
For someone who has never experienced domestic violence, it would be easy to shake your head and wonder why.
As someone who has experienced domestic violence. I know why.
As countries implemented lockdown incidences of violence against women increased, in some countries five-fold.
Photo supplied by upsplash.com
Wednesday, November 25 was "International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women". It also signified the start of 16 days of activism to end violence against females.
You may have seen the orange ribbon tied around trees at places like the Langtree Mall or Mildura Base Hospital.
The theme is: Orange the World - Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect.
There are many different types of violence - some more prevalent in our community then others.
Probably most common in our country are domestic violence, which includes economic violence (controlling finances, school or work), emotional violence, physical violence, psychological violence and sexual violence and Digital or Online Violence, which includes cyberbullying, doxing (public release of identifying or private information) and non-consensual sexting.
In Australia, 16 percent of women have experienced physical violence from a partner since they were 15.
More than one million children are impacted by domestic violence.
On average, one woman per week is killed by a current or former partner.
For me, it was that I thought I would struggle to cope without my partner, mainly emotionally and financially.
On top of that, I had conflicting thoughts of the love for my partner, the memories of the good times, when they were "good" and then there was always the promise that he would change.
I know too well how these thoughts can consume and suffocate you - forcing you to stay in a relationship where you are being treated not like you should.
There are many services that can support you locally when domestic violence is involved but even knowing that it was hard to make that first step - daunting, frightening and the unknown.
I like to think I have a small but special group of friends, and family members who have all the care, love and support in the world for me. But still it was a huge step to take.
Photo supplied by upsplash.com
And then one day I had enough. I had enough of being belittled. I had enough of being controlled financially. I had enough of the emotional abuse. I had enough of the name calling. I had enough of being scared and I had enough of walking on egg shells.
Suddenly the unknown was less scary than reality; the life I was then living.
And so I did it. I ended my relationship. I turned to my family and friends, I turned to The Orange Door.
I let go of that control and I trusted, because I believed I deserved more than how I was being treated. I believed my family deserved more than how they were being treated.
I'm not going to lie. It's been challenging, it's been hard. Most days I cry.
There are constantly times when I feel how hard this all is, dealing with all the services when you have a family involved is overwhelming.
I can even understand why people contemplate staying in abusive relationships with how hard separation is made.
But there is that underlying feeling of relief. Relief that I don't have to be subjected to that abuse again. Relief that the only way now is up. I just keep reminding myself I am one step closer to freedom and happiness.
I recognise my past relationship gave me some of the best experiences and times of my life, but I also refuse to let the bad times define who I am today.
I never thought I would be brave enough to break the cycle. I never thought I would be brave enough to say enough is enough. But I made that change.
And if you need to make that change - it all starts with you.
You don't need a referral to call The Orange Door or you can visit their website for further information about their services: https://orangedoor.vic.gov.au
And remember, if you believe your safety is at risk, call 000.
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Mildura resident and Photographer, Lauren Southwell launched Pure Beauty in late June, 2018 & is committed to helping woman feel beautiful, sexy and empowered through the art of Boudoir Photography.