Rss

The most dangerous time for women. Story 5 of 5 Gee Bailey

Introduction

Leaving an abusive relationship is the time a woman or her children are most likely to be seriously harmed or murdered by their partner.

According to the Domestic Violence Prevention centre, most women will, on average, attempt to leave an abusive relationship between five and seven times before successfully and permanently doing so. Between 25% to 31% of murders in Australia involve either spouses or sexual partners.

Here women across the country share with Guardian Australia how they left an abusive relationship, the support that helped them to regain control, and the help that was lacking when they needed it most.

Gee Bailey abuse victim image www.goodgirlsgo.com

Gee Bailey

I hear people in the media say to ‘just leave’ and they cannot understand why you can’t walk out that door. But what they don’t realise is that when you look outside of that front door, it is black. You can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, you don’t know what’s going to happen to you.


Gee Bailey

Gee Bailey is an artist, author, domestic violence advocate and senior manager. Since leaving an abusive relationship almost eight years ago, she says she feels calmer, happier, safer and in more control of her life. She says deciding to leave an abusive relationship can be a complicated and fraught process, and that having non-judgmental support is key to women regaining control.

I’m not a religious person, but leaving an abusive relationship is like being reborn.

When I did leave, it was a very bad way to leave. I didn’t know that at the time. I decided to leave after he stood over me one night and was yelling at me about ridiculous things, and I snapped, like an elastic band went off in my head. He physically attacked me. I ran into bathroom, locked the door, and this noise came out of me like an animal. I never knew I could make that noise. I thought, I can’t do that any more, and I decided to leave the next day. He was coming home late the next night, so I decided to write him a letter and tell him I can’t do it anymore, and that I was leaving the next day. He didn’t do anything until he saw me physically packing, and then he put me through a glassed picture, threw me on the bed and tried to strangle me.


‘Something I hold dear is a piece of sculpture I bought just at the time I split from my ex-husband. It’s of a mother holding her child high in the air and it reminds me that no matter what went on during that terrible time my son and I could get through any difficulty together.’

I didn’t know I’d been in an abusive relationship until I went to a solicitor after that incident, and told her that I didn’t know what to do. She told me to take out an intervention order, and I didn’t even know what that was. She said: “You’re in an abusive relationship. You need to see the Eastern Domestic Violence Outreach Service.” They’re a safe house, and when I went there for emergency accommodation they gave me a case manager.

That case manager listened to me and for the next 18 months, while I going through the courts, she stayed by my side and walked me through step-by-step. In the court we tried mediation, and it didn’t work, so we went to the family court. She drove me to and from court and sat by me to support me. There’s nothing personal in what the judges, solicitors and barristers do, but sitting there with someone by my side made me feel like I was personally supported, while I was having to prove to the court that I was a good mother.

I refuse to hold on to what happened and let it rule my life. I also want to make sure my son is safe and not distressed, he’s now nine but when we left he was one-and-a-half. I’ve learned so much and that’s why I speak out as an advocate. I want to empower women and say: “You’re going to be OK, you’re going to get through this.”

I think one of the things that made it difficult for me was not realising I was in an abusive relationship, because my mother had put up with so much from my father, I thought it was just what you did, that you stayed there and kept trying.

You have to be retrained in what’s normal and what’s not normal. You literally have to retrain your brain on what is right and not right. What is acceptable and not acceptable in a relationship.


Gee Bailey

I hear people in the media say “just leave” and they cannot understand why you can’t walk out that door. But what they don’t realise is that when you look outside of that front door, it is black. You can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, you don’t know what’s going to happen to you.

But what I would say to women is that there is an enormous support network out there, and you will not be alone. You’ve got to focus on the way you leave, and get everything organised as much as you can beforehand. But even if you can’t and you have to leave suddenly and at the last moment, there is support. You’ve just got to stay focussed and some days will, be so black you can’t see ahead. But you’ve got to try and stay on course and get a support network around you that will help you do that.

There was a period when I thought: “I have to go back to him.” I had this gut wrenching feeling, it’s horrible, that I just couldn’t live without him no matter how badly he treated me. That’s something I had to get over. Sometimes you have good days and sometimes you have shocking days where it’s hard to get out of bed. You’ve got to keep going and you do. It gets better and it’s better than what will happen if you stay. I think you just have to say: “OK, this might be the crappiest thing I’m going to do, but it’s going to get better.” And it will.

There were challenges during the process. He didn’t care about lawyers or courts or police or money or accommodation. But I remember every time I tried to apply for a rental property it would be all fine until they asked if I was looking with my husband and when I told them I was a single mother, doors would close. I remember when I was in a Centrelink and got a single parent pension, and people standing behind me would talk behind my back, like “What the hell is she doing here?” Because I was dressed well and so forth, and that hurts. My ex went through three different solicitors, but I didn’t have any money. Legal aid said they couldn’t help because both mine and my husband’s names were on the mortgage, and because the house was worth about $1m, they thought I didn’t need money, even though I had nothing.

But they gave me a list of solicitors to try and the one I went to allowed me to pay a little bit off each month and then what I got from court when the case was settled, I used to pay the rest. I also joined a support group of women who were abused in relationships because it was like I had to be retrained in life. You have to be retrained in what’s normal and what’s not normal. You literally have to retrain your brain on what is right and not right. What is acceptable and not acceptable in a relationship.

My life has changed enormously since I left. I’m a different person. I’m a lot calmer. I’m successfully raising my son, virtually by myself. I never thought I could have done that in the past. I hold down a senior management role in a business. I’m an artist. Eight years ago if someone would have told me I’d be selling art pieces, and that I would be helping other women in domestic violence situations I would have said they had a screw loose. I’m in a completely different world now, and it’s wonderful.


 www.clublibido.com (6)

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) 1800respect.org.au the national 24/7 counselling helpline for family violence.

The Men’s Referral Service (MRS) provides anonymous and confidential telephone counselling, information and referrals to men to help them take action to stop using violent and controlling behaviour 1300 766 491.

Credits

Reporter: Melissa Davey

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *