Pregnancy start of abuse

From left: Managing solicitor Lesley Kirkwood and Aboriginal Services senior manager Angela Ryder with Aboriginal resource worker Janelle Jilba.
From left: Managing solicitor Lesley Kirkwood and Aboriginal Services senior manager Angela Ryder with Aboriginal resource worker Janelle Jilba.

‘He was always very jealous and controlling, but it got worse when I was pregnant,’ she said.

Donna endured physical and emotional abuse for three years after she became involved with an older man.

While sometimes he appeared ‘nice’, for the most part his possessive nature and irrational behaviour took over to the point where Donna had to ask her mum to look after her two young children.

‘He didn’t want me to have anything to do with them,’ she said.

‘Eventually he stopped me from seeing my family and friends. I didn’t see them for about a year-and-a-half.’

Despite the deliberate isolation and almost daily arguments, which escalated into violence, Donna held on to a faint hope that things might get better, but they got worse.

She managed to pick up work, but her partner had to be there to drop her off and pick her up and would constantly call to make sure she was at work.

He then ended up moving them to the outskirts of Perth.

‘I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone and I was locked up in my room,’ she said.

When a particularly bad argument erupted one night she threatened to leave, but that only prompted her partner to go to the extreme measure of boarding up the doors.

Whenever she and her partner did get out of the house, a public presence still did not deter him from lashing out.

But things eventually reached breaking point.

One night Donna was strangled to the point where she feared for her life.

‘I waited until he was asleep and then I left, but the only way I was able to leave was to leave my child behind,’ she said.

After she fled, Donna had to actively avoid her volatile former partner, but she still needed to get her young child back.

In the end, it took about six months as he was listed as a primary carer.

One day Donna was physically attacked by her former partner after he saw her in public. He was charged with assault and breaching his restraining order.

When he was locked behind bars, Donna was finally able to resume a normal life with her child again.

Two years later, she is now in a happy relationship but is urging other women experiencing domestic violence to get help.

‘People asked me why I didn’t just leave, but it was not that easy,’ she said.

‘I was isolated and when I fell pregnant I felt like I had to stay. When I was going through it, I had nowhere else to go either; that’s why they need services like Djinda.

‘During and afterwards I was put in touch with Angela (Aboriginal Services senior manager with Relationships Australia) and Jan (Moorditj Yarning manager) and they really helped me.’