'I watched my dad kill my mum'
AS A child, Donna-Leigh Perfect saw things that children just shouldn't see.
At seven years of age, Donna-Leigh and her siblings witness her father violently murder their mother in their family home.
She then spent her childhood in and out of foster homes and in a lot of ways, these times in her life were just as horrific as her mother's death.
In their coffee chat, Donna-Leigh shares with Matt some of her experiences during this time and how as an adult, she has used her tragic childhood to help others.
Listen to the conversation with Donna-Leigh Perfect here:
Matt Collins: What do you remember about your parents when you were growing up?
Donna-Leigh Perfect: One of my earliest memories is when I was probably five or six and my father gave me some money to go to the milk bar. And I lost a five dollar note, so I came back home and told him and he gave me a pretty good beating for that.
MC: Would your father get aggressive with you a lot?
D-LP: Yeah, but more so with my brothers. They got beaten quite often for being disrespectful or just for being boys.
MC: Looking back, would you say he was a violent person?
D-LP: No, I wouldn't say violent but definitely unpredictable. You never knew what he was capable of. He would switch very quickly from being very charming to being very aggressive.
MC: You were only five or six so we are only assuming a lot of this, but do you think he would he have been violent towards your mother?
D-LP: I don't recall that to be honest. But now I know that yes, that was the case.
MC: Well, let's talk about that because a massive changed in your world when you were seven and and your father did become violent towards your mother.
MC: Can you tell us about that Donna-Leigh?
D-LP: Well, that was a pretty crazy morning. It was actually the day after my older brother's birthday. I remember making up very early to my mum's scream. I jumped out of bed and I saw my father chasing my mum with a knife. He chased her down the bottom of a spiral staircase in our home. She tried to escape but she couldn't and he stabbed her in the back and I witnessed that at seven years of age.
MC: Now you saw all this happen. Did your other brothers and sisters see it?
D-LP: Yes, we all saw it.
MC: Did the older siblings try to intervene?
D-LP: Yes, my older brother tried to help her but it was too late.
MC: Donna-Leigh, I am not even going to try and ask how you deal with that and the type of emotions that come up, but the question I will ask is do you know what triggered your father to do that?
D-LP: Well, you know that's a really interesting question and that's probably the first time I've been asked that Matt. Yes, I do know why after doing a lot of research as an adult. My mother was having an affair and my father came home early from a golf trip and the other man was hiding in the closet.
MC: Donna-Leigh, I want to move forward just for a minute and after many years in and out of foster homes whilst your father was in prison, you went back to live with him in that same home where he had murdered your mother.
D-LP: That's right
MC: Did you ever have a conversation with your father about what happened?
D-LP: No, we never did and that might sound really odd but at 12, I had the choice of staying in foster care or going back with my dad to the house where he murdered my mum. So, I think we were too afraid to bring it up. I think the questions might have been too much for him.
MC: You have a remarkable story Donna-Leigh, thank you for sharing with me.