16 Days, 16 Stories

Funded by the State Library of Western Australia, 16 Days, 16 Stories is a courageous new collection of stories presented in solidarity with survivors of domestic violence, recorded by the Centre for Stories as part of its contribution to the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

This collaboration hopes to inform and challenge views on what violence looks like and who it might affect. Across 16 unique and powerful personal stories, we hear from both survivors and perpetrators of violence, service providers and frontline workers, and extend what we know about violence, intimacy and power. These stories consider the dark shadow of violence and imagine a powerful collective response. Domestic violence is everyone’s responsibility. Action starts with understanding.

Our deepest gratitude to the people who shared their stories. Thank you to Alphonse Balacky, Amber Williams, Carrie Smith, Catherine Eastman, Dawson Ruhl, Dorinda Cox, Esther Onek, Katrina Francis, Mari Sol, Mary Chetcuti, Narelle Noble, Rehab Ahemd, Roia Atmar, Sarah*, Sheree Lucas Neto, Tameka Brown and Tinashe La.

These stories were collected with the intention to best represent the complexities of diverse experiences of violence. We’re grateful for the opportunity to share new stories from migrant and First Nations women who have suffered from violence.

Content Warning: Please be advised that these stories contain themes of family and domestic violence that some listeners may find distressing. If you have been impacted by family or domestic violence and are in need of support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service.

*not her real name

 

Alphonse and Katrina take us deep inside a life of violence, sharing their stories of growing up with abusive fathers, and the ongoing work required to stop the cycle of domestic violence. Through honest personal stories, we learn how to silence the monster and what makes people change.
Shy as a child, Tinashe initially didn’t see her boyfriend’s lavish attention as anything more than romantic. But as his control tightened, she saw his abuse for what it was. Here, she shares her story of navigating spousal visas as an immigrant in Australia, and choosing to vanquish shame for good.
Tameka speaks to the scope of family violence and how different generations deepen their understanding of what constitutes harm. A senior solicitor at Djinda Service, she explores the role of specialist Aboriginal family violence services and general community awareness in tackling violence.
Witnessing her mother’s abusive relationship didn’t stop Sheree from finding herself in one at 16. Here, she shares her deeply personal story of healing from violence, and working to help teenagers–like her daughter–recognise relationship red flags for themselves.
"There is no suburb of Australia that doesn't have this," says survivor and advocate Sarah on the pervasive nature of domestic violence. Here, Sarah outlines the power of #MeToo, new dialogues, and intersectional approaches to ending harm for good.
It took six years of silence before someone thought to ask Roia–a young, immigrant, mother-of-four in an abusive relationship–if she needed help. Here, she tells her harrowing story of escaping violence, navigating faith and culture, and listening to other women.
Rehab takes us through the complexities of faith and community, sharing her story of immigration and closed-door violence–how her community believed her abusive husband’s public persona, why she chose to return to Australia after leaving him, and why he’s the real victim of this story.
"As long as he is breathing and is alive, we will never be safe," says Narelle of her abusive ex-husband. Systems designed to protect us don’t do enough and technology abuse is "too hard basket." You can’t fix an abuser–but you can support kids and change systems.
"Within you is everything that you need to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma," says Mary. She shares about strength, self-worth and healing, in a deeply personal story of recovering from rock bottom.
On the outside it’s neat and tidy; on the inside, it’s a war zone. Carrie speaks frankly about her history of abusive relationships, getting out for her son, the strength of survivors, and the need for humanity and empathy within systems supposed to help.
A survivor of violence and a lifelong advocate for women, Amber paints a stark picture of a system for survivors of violence lacking resources, nuance and education. Tackling domestic violence is everyone’s responsibility, and it starts with believing survivors.
The tall, funny, muscular man Catherine met at a party would months later try to drown her in the Swan River. Here, she talks frankly about surviving violence, living for herself, and rewiring a childhood lacking love and respect. "This isn't my shame," she decides.
Dawson speaks to the insidious societal problems of patriarchy, power imbalance and men’s entitlement, and reflects on how he learned as a therapist to ask the right questions and seek social change. Eradicating gender-based violence must be a collective decision made by us all.
Dorinda says a new narrative about the potential of contemporary Aboriginal women and a sophisticated interplay of western and traditional justice systems are what’s needed to tackle systemic violence. Colonisation destroyed gender equality and its repair is our shared responsibility.
According to Esther, we’re still not prepared to hear disclosures of violence. Hearing stories is a first step and we must not whisper about this issue. To tackle violence, let’s destroy the power of silence and shout about it from the top of the roof.
Married at 17, Mari never knew anything but violence and disrespect in family relationships. Here, she shares a harrowing personal story of abuse, mental illness, losing her children, and learning how to live life on her own terms.
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