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Simone's Story

"One woman a week is killed at the
hands of a current or former partner.
I was almost one of those women."

Martine's story is not uncommon. "I am lucky to have escaped, and I owe my life to my two sons, Andy and Cooper, who knew what a healthy, respectful relationship looked like."

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Martine's* Story

I met my ex-partner in July and we saw each other for a few months. Things were fine at the start but pretty quickly, he started to behave differently. My boys didn’t want to be around him. He was very good at making me feel like I wasn’t good enough - like everything was my fault. He would occasionally get physically aggressive, grabbing my arms, but mostly he would play mind games.

We would be having a good night, and then all of a sudden he would just snap.

He would apologise, and send texts saying “I’m sorry, I’m going to change.” I believed him. I didn’t even realise he was manipulating me. Until one day, my son Andy* said to me “Mum, I can’t believe he treats you like this. He shouldn’t be treating you like this.” I knew then that I couldn’t have this man around me or my kids.

Things escalated and became frightening. He started harassing me, leaving hundreds of messages, and calling over and over again.

He would come to the house and bash on the windows, while I hid inside with my boys. He terrorised my mum, texting her dozens of times a day, asking where I was. He snuck in to my friend’s party, stole my phone and went through it, reading all of my messages. He would drive after me, and harass me on the roads by cutting me off, swerving towards my car, tooting his horn and yelling out.

I was scared all the time, and felt like I couldn’t trust anyone.

He had taken me away from friends and family, and I was completely isolated.

One night, it reached breaking point. He came into my home uninvited and physically attacked me. Andy, who was only 12 years old at the time, woke up and ran to help me, jumping on his back to get him off me.

My story is not an uncommon one. Many women all over Australia identify with my experiences. One in four women have experienced emotional abuse by a partner since the age of fifteen.

I know you want to stop this from happening to more women in the future.

The more young people we can reach through White Ribbon’s school program to teach about respect, gender equality and healthy relationships, the safer our future generations of women will be.

My youngest boy Cooper* comes home from school now and says “Mum, there was someone bullying a kid today and I said something. I acted.” Andy changes the channel on the radio if it’s a song that’s talking about girls in a disrespectful way. “We can’t play that,” he says, even when he’s in the car with his mates. I am so proud of them both.

It would mean a lot to me if you could make a kind donation of $79 this tax time, so that other young boys like Andy and Cooper can learn what respectful relationships look like - to teach them to stand up, speak out and act when they see behaviour that can lead to disrespect, gender inequality, and ultimately, violence and abuse.

If we can give them the tools to understand what a respectful, healthy relationship looks like, they will stand up, speak out and act for a world free from violence.

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Martine on White Ribbon's first Trek for Respect, at the top of Mount Sonder (NT).

*Names and images edited to protect identities.

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