Domestic Violence is More than Skin Deep

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Mikayla was in her early twenties when she met her ex-husband. It was a whirlwind relationship, and they were married within months. He was on a student visa at the time, needing residency, which Mikayla didn’t know about.

Mikayla, who has been vision impaired since birth, had experienced a childhood that included abuse from her stepmother and a lack of support from her father.  She was now about to experience further control and abuse at the hands of her husband.

His abuse wasn’t obvious though, and Mikayla experienced six years of violence and control that was more than skin deep with social, verbal, emotional, economic and sexual abuse.

“He became controlling.  He’d come to my work on my lunch breaks, and wait for me after work.  I went to a concert with my brother one night, and it got to the point where I had to turn my phone off.  He was texting or calling every 20 minutes.  In fact, I had only been allowed to go to the concert after agreeing to buy him a new phone.”

“Even though I wasn’t experiencing any physical abuse, my friend knew how he was and saw his behaviour and the signs and she told me months before I should leave.”

“In the beginning I didn’t think it was violence, I thought he was being caring.  But as time went on, and the verbal abuse escalated, I would say to him ‘Your words are hurting more, I would prefer the bruises.  Just hit me.’  I wanted physical proof of the pain I was feeling and going through.”

The verbal abuse was daily for Mikayla. 

As well as accusing her of sleeping with other men, Mikayla’s husband would use her disability to abuse her; telling her she was a retard, an idiot, and refusing to let her use her cane.

Mikayla fell pregnant, and during her pregnancy and after having her son, the violence and controlling behaviour became worse.  “When he went away for work, I had to sleep with video chat on, so he could watch me when I slept.  This was so he could see I wasn’t sleeping with someone else.”

“I was home a lot.  I slowly started losing myself; I wasn’t allowed to go out with my friends, so I lost a lot of friends.  He always went with me to see my family, or called me and told me to snapchat where I was, so I could prove it.  It was so horrible having to constantly prove where I was, or have him checking in with my friends to make sure I wasn’t lying.”

Mikayla eventually found the courage to leave.  After an 18 month separation, Mikayla lost employment, and her mental health began to spiral.  Without a job, her husband took control of the household income and the economic abuse started.  He would give her $100 to feed their family, clothe their son, and buy everyday items like nappies.

“I would have to get receipts and show him what I spent money on.  He didn’t like me buying second hand clothing for my son, which is all I could afford, and he would criticize me for that.”

Eventually, Mikayla and her young son left again, and went to her father’s house to live.  But with a history of abuse and toxic relationships there, it wasn’t long before Mikayla was out of options.

Donations were then put to work

“I started reaching out for help.  I had nowhere to go.  I went to the police, was placed in a refuge for people who are homeless, and within two days I was offered a house at BaptistCare.  I was very skittish and unable to trust people, but over time I found things in common with the BaptistCare support workers, and was able to connect with them.”

Mikayla was in BaptistCare’s domestic violence housing for 10 months, before being offered government community housing.  During this time she regained her confidence, has taken up using her cane again, and is slowly rebuilding her life. 

“I initially didn’t want to leave BaptistCare, because of the safety, the cameras; my son could play in the driveway and he’d be safe.  It was scary and I didn’t know how I was going to deal with the outside.”

“But my son was happy when he saw our new house, and his confidence has rubbed off on me.  The group programs BaptistCare run have helped me a lot – we talk about budgeting.  I did their Living Beyond Abuse program, and the Triple P parenting program has been great.  I still go back to BaptistCare now to do the parenting program.”

“It gets better once you leave.  I grew up with people controlling me, mentally and emotionally.  But I got my confidence back with BaptistCare, I’m more independent, and I’m slowly getting there.”

It was through the generous donations of our supporters that allowed us to give her hope. Will you please continue to provide hope for people like Mikayla by sending your gift today?
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