Life after Domestic Violence: The original post that started it all.

This was the very first public post I ever published. Written in the spirit of and to honour the Fearless Comedy Gala, founded by Comedian Juliet Moody.

TRIGGER WARNING: Domestic Violence.

This topic is one which I am often vocal about but have not previously spoken publicly of. But it’s time something more was done and it’s time more victims get to have their say.

Finally, while very anxious, in my own attempt to be fearless, I’m going to have my say. I’m not scared anymore.

The most comforting quote I have ever read was that by the wonderful Anne Lamott. She said “You own everything that ever happened to you, tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

This morning I had the pleasure of a coffee and a chat with the hilarious and very lovely Juliet Moody, Comedian. You may have seen Juliet and the Fearless Comedy Gala popping up in news papers, TV and across social media in recent weeks. If you’ve popped past the Canberra theatre recently, you’ll have seen it flashing up on the big screen. Exciting!

The Fearless Initiative, of which Juliet is the Founder & Director is a revolutionary movement directed at supporting those who are or have experienced domestic violence. It is about showing victims that there is life after abuse and that no matter how scary those first steps are, your freedom is your right and can and need to fight for it. I’m am so incredibly honoured to be in the position to use my business, Pip & Lou. The Canberra Dessert Designer, and its platform to support The Fearless Initiative in sponsoring this incredible event.

I cannot really put into words the sheer joy and and to be honest, the touch of sadness that overwhelms me to see that FINALLY awareness is being driven into the epidemic of domestic violence across this country. Finally. We are sadly now all too familiar with the stories of Rosie and Luke Batty, Tara Costigan, Alison Baden-Clay and the many more victims of DV that have been splashed across the media in the past few years.

Those closest to Eva and I would be aware that 6 November 2016 will mark 3 years since we were granted our first Domestic Violence Protection Order. Further, that following a hideously expensive and emotionally destructive court case, the 20th of March 2016, ironically Eva’s birthday, marked our first year of officially and legally being free of domestic violence.

It is the most outrageous idea that a person afflicted with violence, threats and harm are often denied the right to voice their distress. To seek assistance from those meant to protect and to simply be heard without being branded a liar, attention seeker or spiteful ex partner.

Unfortunately it is in many ways thanks to those very few spiteful false victims and their false accusations that those genuine victims are so often denied the assistance they desperately need. The general attitude toward domestic violence however, and the ‘closed door policy’ that directs its concealment, making it feel shameful to speak out needs to change, right now.

When, in the days following my daughters third birthday, I received the final court orders that entitled me to sole custody and sole parental responsibility of my daughter with no contact until she is 18 and an ongoing restraining order covering both myself and Eva, I sat on my kitchen floor and cried until I could barely breathe.

I cried for every day that I took a different route home from work to daycare. I cried for every time I had to comfort my 1 year old baby after she had tried to defend me. I cried for the day I learned he had been convicted of threatening to kill me. I cried for the many times I’d stayed because he’d threatened self harm. I cried for considering watering down my baby’s milk to make it go further, before swallowing my pride and asking my mother for help with groceries in order to cover my tens of thousands in legal expenses. I cried for the bankruptcy papers I signed at 24 years old.

I cried for the times I’d called the police for help for the countless breaches of the restraining order only to be given a little cards with a number and a name that resulted in nothing being done. I cried for the excuses the police granted my husband and for the crappy public service response I received to my first written complaint to the Victims of Crime Commissioner. I cried for the meeting I was granted with the north and south Canberra Police Super Intendants together with the Victims of Crime Commissioner in which I was forced to further defend myself and demand my right to protection under the law.

I cried for the moment that they finally listened, the moment the most senior police officers in Canberra offered me an apology on behalf of ACT Policing and ordered an inquiry into the poor handling of my case. I cried for my diagnosis of PTSD and for my daughters diagnosis of Early Childhood Trauma Syndrome.

I cried for the hundreds of severe night terrors my baby experienced, for her stress induced constipation, anxiety and fear of men. I cried for the previously great friends who took sides, who dragged me through the mud, shared information and furthered the abuse. I cried for the former family members who rubbished me within the community and who turned people I’d never even met into enemies who would stare me down on the street.

I cried a lot.

Domestic violence doesn’t stop after the orders are granted, the character assassination continues, the stares and talking continues. The pictures of my daughter taken from my personal and business social media pages only to be reposted with loving comments by a person who does not even know her, who traumatised her, who seeks pity and claimed to be the victim in it all…. that also continues after the orders are granted.

But my post today is to say, that there is life after domestic violence. You can move, study, build a business and a new life. You can determine your identity and legacy. You can choose not to be intimidated and scared. But first, you have to choose to fight for your right to peace, freedom and choice. You have to demand to be heard and to make the ignorant listen.

Because after all that I’m still here. My daughter is happy, healthy and we are both recovering. I have a successful business, great friends and family.

It’s a cliche but it could happen to anyone. Help the powerless raise their voices. You have no idea the difference it could make!

Love Camille & Eva XO


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