Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: ZEST (10/01/15)
- TITLE: A bright future beckons
By Robyn Harbour
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No longer were they living in a threatening environment and they thrived. They shone, they laughed, they played. They were happy even though they and their mum were crammed into two bedrooms in our seaside home.
Our daughter had been in an abusive marriage for 17 years, she has five children that have mental health issues because of the violence they have experienced from their father.
For years she thought it was all her fault, that there was something wrong with her and the children that caused the anger and violence. That is, until he was diagnosed with PTSD from his years in the army serving overseas; starting with East Timor, then Bougainville. It was then that she realised it was not her fault and she started to take control of her life again.
Three years of counselling and courses had not changed him, in fact he was getting worse in his abuse and behaviour. This man is a highly intelligent medical doctor at a major hospital. He should know better. To outsiders he is kind, helpful and would bend over backwards to help another human being.
It all came to a head when she discovered her 13 year old was cutting, her 12 year old was also self harming. The younger children started wetting the bed again and having panic attacks. It was time to do something. A brochure at the local library on Domestic and Family Violence convinced her that she was a victim...
‘Go immediately and get the children out of school,’ Patrick the policeman said on the phone in response to our urgent phone call. We will do foot patrols around the hotel all night and escort you to the ship tomorrow.’
My daughter and my husband had spent hours with the police the day before, they wanted her to take out a Family Violence Order then, but she hesitated, she did not want to ruin her husband’s career. The police said they now had enough on her husband that ‘they would know when he passed wind’. All she had to do was do the paperwork.
She had planned to ‘do a runner’, catch a plane with the children during school hours and flee to our home in Inverloch. A call to the Women’s Legal Service told her that State Law does not allow this, she needs relocation permission. He husband would have been able to get a court order to have her forcibly brought back. Her lawyer told her to take the children for a months holiday and hope that her husband would sign permission for her to relocate.
We took the car over and spent a couple of days with the family first; we saw the distress and nervousness of the children when their father was around. This had escalated since we last visited in January. Removing $10,000 from the bank account set off an alarm on her husband’s phone and he called to ask why. She told him everything he needed to know was on the kitchen table. She had left a letter from her lawyer, one from herself and one from us.
By the time he got home we were all safe in a hotel with police protection. He ended up at Heidelberg Repat in the Psych ward.
The children felt the love of their grandparents and extended family. The cutting stopped, as did the bedwetting, the panic attacks and the meltdowns. Our daughter’s eyes are bright and clear once again, there was hope for the future.
He did not consent to the relocation so the family had go back. They went home on the ship last night, mother, 5 children, 2 bunnies and 1 cat.
A Family Violence order will give them police protection while she applies through the Family Court for a relocation permit.
In the meantime they will be able to say a proper goodbye to their school friends and spend the last term at their school. This will help with the transition as they were traumatised by the suddenness of the previous departure. They have a new life full of zest and happiness to look forward to.
One in six families are living with violence. This is Australia’s shameful secret.
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