Content warning: This story discusses themes of domestic violence and suicide. Please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you need support.
This story was collected at our Kununurra backyard and is told by ‘Alice‘. Alice shares her experience with domestic violence, how it is linked to mental health and why she wants to be the change she hopes to see in the world.
Backstories 2022 is a multi-sited storytelling festival located in suburbs of across Perth and regional Western Australia. In 2022, Backstories occurred in locations such as Geraldton, Kununurra, Bunbury, Margaret River and Lesmurdie.
Backstories 2022 Kununurra was made possible with funding from Lotterywest, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, and Centre for Stories Founders Circle.
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Copyright © 2023 Anonymous Storyteller
Photo by Anne Clarke.
This story and corresponding images have been licensed to the Centre for Stories by the Storyteller. For reproduction and distribution of this story/image please contact the Centre for Stories.
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When I was first asked to share. Like Tasha said, we all said, what would we share? We don’t know nothing. And then, she reminds us, we are women. We are mothers. We are wives. Ex-Wives. New Wives. You know, glutton for punishment.
But what brought me to be a story sharer today is mental health… Ah shit, I haven’t even started and I need a tissue.
[Comments from audience].
On a second note, this is my first time where I’ve shared my story with anybody else, apart from my friends… Thank you, sweetie. And first time I have done public speaking. So three things I’m doing today that I’ve never done before.
So my family from Alingardi tribe. That’s the kookaburra. My family from paradise pool, forrest mission, near Wyndham. I was moving past [inaudible words] in 1989 to go visit my sister in Darwin, she was getting married. And two weeks later, I come back down, back home from Derby where I was living with my dad at the time. [Inaudible]. Then I ended up getting married here twice. Like I said, I got a house. Twelve years today. This year, should I say. Wonderful new husband. But the mental health thing came from domestic violence.
Growing up, I had three wonderful sets of parents, my mum and her partner, my dad and his partner, and the parents of growing up, the grannies. So that’s where I get my Nyul Nyul tribe from, Beagle Bay. So I never seen violence. I didn’t know what domestic violence was, and then I put up with it. Then my daughter put up with it. And suicide. Every second phone call from when she was living away with the domestic violence boyfriend. We did triage three times to get her out of the thing. Nurses, cops and me. Third time lucky, she didn’t go back. But coming out of that, she couldn’t cope, didn’t seek help. So her father took her daughter. And now she’s going through a level of violence, domestic violence all over again.
So my story today, I wanted you guys to know, domestic violence is not acceptable and the children will understand that it is acceptable if you put up with it. Sorry.
I was supposed to be the happy one, that’s why they left me last…
So leaving domestic violence… [Audience laughter].
So coming out of domestic violence, it was very, nobody’s gone through just before. Where do I get help? Who do I look to? Who can help me? I couldn’t find anything. No one to help me on domestic violence. I was lucky Homes West recognized my situation.
The woman shelter put me in their house across the road. Then I got a Homes West house like three months later with six kids. You know, I needed somewhere to go. So after I got the house, I went to a program run by all girls [inaudible words]. They brought up a lady from Circle House in Broome, delivering the Jabada program.
They had it in the schools. I dont know if anyone is a teacher here or had children that went through the program. But that thing changed my life, getting back my power. So I’ve never looked back. You know, I just need every girl to know they’re not alone. One thing I got from that program is that everybody has a story and that person’s story, being nasty to you, something made him nasty or her or whoever it is, it can be family member, could be lateral violence. People heard of lateral violence?
And when I was going through domestic violence, it was one of four women. So the person next to you could be a domestic violence victim. We don’t call em victims, we call them survivors. And I’m trying to remember this quote that I found in the Jabada program, Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘No one can make you feel inferior, unless you let them’. From then on, I have never looked back.
I have just gone on and on and gone forward. I was in the think tank that did the mental health sit downs in the hospital, think safe? For mental health. And I currently work for NDIS at Warangarri, and most of my clients have mental health issues and like that goal for me, what Jabada taught me to stand up and be responsible for my own choices.
You know, if I wanted to stop domestic violence, be the change that I want to be, that I want. So bang, that was it. So now I’m dealing with mental health everyday, which is great, because that’s my passion and I just want to… pardon me. Where that comes from is mental health, whether it be, wherever it’s on, domestic violence, you are born with it, linked in your DNA, like we said everything is cellular these days. There is help. You are not alone. Look at us. We all found each other in a storytelling group. So there are people out there who have the same story as you, don’t think that you’re doing it alone no matter what it is. And I hope you guys can take that away with you guys and share. Please share, don’t do this alone.