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Leaving

Having watched my Mum leave an abusive relationship (I think I’ve blogged about it before, not sure where), I’ve never really understood the “Why doesn’t she leave?” mentality that some supposedly helpful people have. I was with her as a five year old as she had to make all the sneaky arrangements to flee. Thank god she had a relative half a country away who funded the flights and put her up in a granny flat. She was one of the lucky ones. She escaped. She had support. But even then, she started out in a strange city, knowing noone, with a 5 year old and a 12 month old with nothing but what she had on her back or what she managed to cram into her luggage. And she lived in fear – the reasonable, rational fear of someone who has been on the receiving end of violence and knows (in her heart, although research backs her hunch up) that leaving it is the most dangerous time for her.

Truly, it’s so fucking hard for a woman to leave – then and now – that it’s remarkable that any do. The fact that so many do successfully speaks of their strength of mind and purpose, their focus in saving little bits of money he doesn’t know about, their survival skills, their determination to remove themselves and their kids from any further violence. Don’t sell women who’ve experienced DV short. They may not realise it themselves after their abuser has shot their confidence to shreds, but the fact they are still standing is testimony to their strength.

And I am seeing those qualities reflected in my sister (the 12 month old mentioned above, now in her 30s) who is herself taking a stand and leaving a violent relationship. The police have failed her repeatedly. They failed to make an arrest following one particularly viscious assuault in which her husband repeatedly smashed her head against concrete until she blacked out. I’ve written about it here and here. And they have failed her again recently when she went to them for an AVO and they told her there “wasn’t sufficient evidence because it’s different once you split up”. Ignorant dickheads. OK, that might have been one cop. But because of that one cop’s bullshit assessement, decent cops can’t take the AVO out on her behalf by over-riding the previous cop’s assessment. True there are alternatives, but come on.

So, following trying to take an AVO out on her husband and failing, she made the brave decision to leave. And leave immediately. Have you ever packed up an entire house in 2 days? We did it. She was more than fair in leaving half the household goods (particularly given that we’ve since found out he’s already trashed the lounge and punched the TV to bits in a rage), but we packed up every personal item belonging to her and her kids and put it either into storage or in the back of her boot.

That sounds hard enough, doesn’t it? But wait, there’s more.

She drove with her belongings in the boot of the car and her cat in the back seat with the kids to my step dads for refuge. I had told her she was welcome to stay with me, but I think she wanted some stable male energy. Wrong place to go for that. Before they were even there two days the evil witch who controls our step dad had created drama and was ready to kick my sister and the kids onto the street. But in fact it took another two whole days for that to actually happen. My sister once again packed the kids, the cat and the stuff into the car to drive 1000k or so to my place. Now, that’s not nice in any circumstances. But add two traumatised kids who are convinced their grandad doesn’t love them and a shell-shocked mum just trying to keep it together and you begin to think that my step dad and his evil witch are actually pretty poor excuses for human beings. Week 1 wasted.

OK, so she’s at my place. She and the kids have survival senses that are so honed by trauma and the DV cycle that they are flinching at the slightest thing. Despite being made welcome, they are expecting to be kicked out at any moment. We are having to give the kids so much love, but the trauma is there just below the surface. Yesterday, my sister said that the needed to get into the car and go, and the kids took that to mean that they were “going” going and asked if they were taking the cat!

But apart from frayed nerves and post traumatic stress, she now has to deal with housing. She hasn’t had to seek refuge accomodation, and she won’t have to while I’ve got a say in it. She has a room here as long as she needs it, and she knows it. But it’s not ideal. It’s not her room or her space. She’s living out of a suitcase and it’s cramped (the room, not the suitcase). But she has to deal with long term accomodation, which raises questions of public or private housing. If public, complete paperwork and cross fingers. If private, figure out how to cover the bond and afford the rent. Is there assistance for private bond and rental? What is deemed to be ‘affordable housing’ and how far away from where she is staying will she have to look to find it? What about her son’s special needs? How do they factor in- help or hindrance? And so on.

Accessing any assistance is to delve into a paperwork nightmare. Centrelink. Dept of Housing. Sorting out the banking. And on we go. Through a friend of mine who also went through DV she has finally been referred to a program to assist women who have experienced Domestic Violence, and the outreach worker there is fabulous. Nevertheless, she can only work wonders not miracles.

All this with the time pressure of School starting next week and having to get her daughter into a new school at the start of term. She’d prefer not to have to move her part way through the term, but what if it drags on?

And then there’s furniture. She needs to find money to buy a new lounge (destroyed by husband), dining table (left behind), fridge (left behind), TV (left behind and destroyed by husband). What about cookware and plates? Pretty much all she doesn’t need to replace is the beds and the clothes they are wearing.

The there’s the joint accounts. And the car which is in his name. To contact him about this or not? It’s hard to know which way to turn. And them, of course, there’s custody and visitation rights to the kids. What a nightmare. Anything or nothing could trip him into a violent rage. He’s only an hour a way and – need I remind you – the cops have done nothing to ensure her protection.

My sister is daily in tears about how it’s all too hard. And it is. It’s ridiculously hard to safely extract herself from this violent relationship and to create a new life from practically nothing. Having to contend with homelessness, poverty, fear and more…

Are you starting to get the picture now about why women might not be able to extract themselves from a violent relationship?

Why it’s all a bit too much right now.

This is why I am a bit silent on the blogging front:

  1. My hours have been cut and my pay with it – and there is a real risk of further job cuts
  2. John’s health is precarious, as he has some complications related to his kidney disease, and he cannot work full time.
  3. Financially struggling with basics like rent, food and medications. We have long since used up any ‘safety net’ we once had.
  4. The house we rent is on the market, and we may have to move in the next 4-6 weeks. As the people inspecting the property seem to be mainly first home buyers, I think moving is pretty much a certainty.
  5. My sister recently recovered memories of early childhood rape by a creepy uncle. Since he also abused me (although not to this degree), it’s somewhat triggering. I want to kill the cunt.
  6. My step-father is terminally ill with brain cancer. He’s had surgery, but it’s not good. He’s deciding whether to cease treatment or not. (You may remember that I was estranged from him for various reasons. Of course, I’ve put grievances aside, and am there for him. )
  7. Depression is once again rearing it’s ugly head. Not suprising considering the situational triggers.

Yes, I know this is a whingy, whiny, poor me post. My mother would have told me to be grateful for what I have. And she would have been right.

Blessings:

  1. John
  2. My cats
  3. We aren’t on the street (yet!)
  4. I still have a job
  5. Family
  6. The depression is still currently moderate, and I have managed to get through A LOT without falling into a non-functional void.

Eating Japanese

Miso with enoki mushrooms

We’ve always loved Japanese food. Visiting Japan a few years ago only confirmed our love and since our return we have found a really good Japanese supermarket (if you are in Sydney, it’s TokyoMart in Northbridge – which is a bit out of our way, but very definitely worth it) and spent some time researching homestyle Japanese recipes, which we now make and eat at home 9 times out of 10. It’s soooo good.

oyakodon (chicken and egg rice bowl)

But the Japanese style of eating also suits John’s special dietary needs as a dialysis patient waiting for a kidney transplant*. He’s on home PD, so he does not have as many dietary restrictions as someone doing hemodialysis, but he still needs to be careful with his nutritional intake. In particular, he needs protein and calcium whilst avoiding phosphorus and potassium. It’s all a bit of a balancing act. This is kind of hard to do in a traditional western diet, since most of our calcium tends to come in dairy products which he needs to limit. Countless websites have been devoted to helping people on dialysis navigate an interesting and balanced renal diet. But for us, eating Japanese food has gone a long way to helping balance John’s dietary needs without either of us (important!) feeling like we are eating in a restrictive or unsatisfying way.

Gyoza

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of the online resources for Japanese food that we have found after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Eating Japanese’

How can this happen?

How can it happen in this day and age for police to be called out to a domestic violence incident and then walk away without making an arrest because the man lies and tries to divert attention from his actions?

That’s what happened yesterday to my sister. She was viciously assaulted by her husband (in front of her 3.5 year old and nearly 2 year old), prevented from ringing the police by him unplugging the home phone and throwing her mobile phone on to the roof, prevented from leaving by his throwing her purse and keys onto the roof. When she finally managed to call the police from the home phone, he threw her against a bookcase and she hit her head. He also when they were outside pushed her violnently to the concrete where she hit her head badly. She managed to get up and push him away into the fence and then the police turn up.

My sister was suffering amnesia and confusion from, not suprisingly, concussion – so she couldn’t remember what happened to tell the police. You would think that would ring alarm bells with the police, wouldn’t you? Really, wouldn’t you?

But no. They listen to my fuck-wad of a brother-in-law who tells them only that my sister pushed him into the fence (and not that it was her doing it in self defence). And he told them that she was “off her medication”. Anti-fucking-depressants for Post-Natal Depression. She gave birth nearly 2 years ago. Off her medications, give me a break. Ooh, she’s a dangerous psycho and must just be making trouble for the poor man. Fuck off.

So what do the police do? Not arrest the fucker. Not clue into the fact that my sister could be is brain injured. Oh, no. They believe his obfuscations and leave. Oh, and they gave her a card and said she could call if she wanted to. And left her there with him.

Apparently he eventually got her keys and purse etc down from the roof. So my sister left to go to a friends.

It seems the police turning up calmed him down enough to do that. But my question is: What if he hadn’t? What if, after they had left, the situation had escalated? Where the fuck was their duty of care?

But she was confused and dizzy all night. I wanted her to go to emergency last night to get checked out, but she wouldn’t listen to me. Dad got there this morning and has taken her to the hospital now. She is being treated for concussion and checked for skull and spine injuries.

I will be heading up later. We will be going to the police and charging the motherfucker and getting an AVO.

But really, what the fuck was wrong with the officers who attended last night? Do they have no training in DV? Do they not know how to assess a person’s basic medical condition? Do they have no fucking idea about basic mental health issues that they think a mother who once suffered post-natal depression is unreliable and unstable? Do they have no idea that men who commit DV will lie and obfuscate and divert attention from themselves?

I want to scream at the police officer who left my sister without medical attention and in a potentially dangerous situation with her husband. I want to charge down to the police station and ask what their god damned DV policy is, because last I heard police had a duty of care when called out to DV incidents.

But of course I won’t, because that will not help my sister’s situation at all.

We will support her when she makes her statement. And we will support her when she, as she says she is going to, leaves the cunt who did this to her.ent


Fatadelic

 

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