I was in a violent marriage for several years; the majority of that was emotional abuse, but also physical. In June 2014, my then-husband had physically threw and locked me out of our house for the third time that year. Having no access to my car, I walked to my closest friend’s house with the clothes he had “packed” for me – by packed, I mean thrown down the front stairs.
Living in fear was suffocating, and the violence was getting worse, because as he had told me, I was becoming more ‘defiant’ so I was getting what I deserved. In what I call my ‘lightbulb moment’, I vividly remember thinking to myself that night, , ‘Ok, this is it. You need to decide if this is how you want to spend the rest of your life.’ I was lucky enough to have a path out and I took it.
When I moved interstate, away from my family and friends it was out of necessity.
Standing up, speaking out.
Being far away from everyone, I was mentally at my lowest. One day I googled ‘domestic violence support’ and the first search that came up was White Ribbon. I became a supporter that day. I completed the e-learning courses, and would love the opportunity to become an official White Ribbon advocate. I ran and competed in challenges, including Run Melbourne, proudly waving the White Ribbon flag.
I found my voice. I realised that if my story can help one other woman, then I know what I went through means something.
Joining the Trek for Respect: Kokoda
Kokoda is something I always thought I would love to do but didn’t think it was realistically within my grasp. When the email came through from White Ribbon to join the Trek for Respect, I just knew I had to be a part of that. It was an instinctual moment, so I jumped on it.
You will meet people from all different walks of life who have come together for the same reason. Trek for Respect: Kokoda allowed me to realise that I wasn’t alone, that so many other women (unfortunately) have experienced similar situations to me and that we can be there to support each other. I now have life-long friendships that I greatly cherish from that trek.
For me White Ribbon’s cause is something I will carry for life. Awareness, speaking out and education are a huge part of ending domestic violence and I want to be a part of that change.
Author Jaimee is a White Ribbon supporter who took on the Trek for Respect: Kokoda in 2019. To find out more about the Trek and to see the itinerary for 2020, please visit the Trek for Respect: Kokoda 2020 information page.
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