Domestic violence survivor counts herself as the lucky one

HER partner raped her, and broke her teeth and her bones but not her spirit.

A domestic violence survivor who works at Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service, helping others in a position she herself was once in, spoke to a group of judges, lawyers, social workers and researchers about her ordeal and changes needed in society and the justice system.

The mother-of-five said the legal system needed an overhaul to ensure a faster process and that victims were not re-victimised.

She told 100 people gathered at the QUT Crime and Justice Research Centre-organised domestic violence discussion in Brisbane on Tuesday that as time passed, so did the resentment forcing victims to report their ordeals to police and take the matter to court.

As her own legal process drew out, she would find herself not showing up on court dates to deal with the incident and the cycle would begin again.

She said it was important to "strike while the iron is hot".

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But she added those who did attend court often felt re-victimised when they had to give testimony in front of their tormentors, or would go only to have the perpetrators not attend.

Her suggestion was video-conferencing and issuing warrants for those who did not attend.

She also believes educating children about domestic violence, most likely between years 7 and 9, is vital.

QUT Associate Professor Molly Dragiewicz said there was an urgent need to find solutions.

"Australia has seen record high domestic homicides this year, with reports indicating on average more than one woman dies a week," she said.

"Something has to change to prevent these preventable murders of women and children. This symposium is a step toward fixing the systemic problems that allow such killings to continue."

The domestic violence survivor said when she counselled victims and gave them support options, she also told them "in the end it is up to you, you'll leave when you're ready".

"Finally I'm away from domestic violence, I'm a survivor," she said.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, phone 1800 737 732.


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