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Nicole's Story

Nicole
It does happen and we need to talk about it and stop being afraid to talk about these things.

I have experienced firsthand the barriers and hurdles that women face, when they just want to feel some sense of safety. And I faced the barriers and hurdles on my own. I had very little support and had to do everything alone to keep myself safe. But the perpetrator got legal aid and support from others. It was the wrong way around.

As a victim I was made to feel like the one in the wrong. No-one understood the fear, the intimidation and everything else that led me up to the position I was in. My whole life had been torn apart. But I was judged, as people made assumptions about me, because of how I look and how the perpetrator looked. I received a lot of blame for things that weren’t my fault, and it was really really hurtful and is detrimental to my health, wellbeing and safety.

Victim blaming is something that needs to change. It is horrific that anyone can experience the hardest thing in their whole entire life and then be blamed for it. The fears are very real – they are not made up and they need to be taken seriously because they are very serious for us.

I want society to understand that people with disabilities are very vulnerable to domestic violence but also that people with disabilities can also be perpetrators. I want to dispel this myth that we are all inspirations – because the person who perpetrated the violence against me is not an inspiration it doesn’t matter that he has a disability. I want this to change for myself and for other women as well – men with disabilities can perpetrate family violence.

It does happen and we need to talk about it and stop being afraid to talk about these things.

I want to challenge the language that we use. I want us to stop dancing around the reality of family violence. I want us to use confronting language, to name actions for what they are.

I am telling my story and sharing my experience because I want people to get a true understanding of what is actually happening within Victoria. We’ve had the Royal Commission and that was really insightful but to get a personalised view of what people are going through and what people are experiencing is a whole other ball game. You can read things on paper but when people actually engage with someone who’s been a victim of domestic violence, it makes it more personal and brings a whole different level to it and gives people a reason to want to change.

Speaking out, being an advocate and designing the changes to the family violence system is part of my journey of recovery in a way.

I feel empowered.

I am using my voice so I can make a difference for other women in my situation, for other women who are going through or have been where I have been and to be a voice for people who have a disability. I have had so much compassion from everyone that I have spoken to and it brings a lot of hope for the future that things actually will change.

I have hope and I am here to help make the changes for all women in the situation.

I hope that we bring about an awareness, so that people understand that everyone can be affected by family violence. Family violence is every persons’ business and everyone can make a difference.

You can make a difference by speaking up. Don’t ignore what is going on around, instead step in and step up.

It could be the thing that makes a difference and saves a life.