I was in an abusive relationship, but I did not know it.
I was young, I was in love, and I thought I did not deserve him
So for years I let him tell me I was not good enough, that I would be better if I just changed my hair, or my makeup, or how I dressed.
It started as emotional abuse - tearing me down, and telling me not to make jokes in front of his mates because "he was the funny one".
Then it turned physical.
He would get angry, snap, and push me.
He would hold me down, and tell me I belonged to him.
One day, he got angry. So angry. He grabbed me by the throat, lifted my body off the ground, and pinned me against the back of a door.
When he let go, I dropped to the floor, and he said to me "you know I have a bad temper, you need to learn to not make me angry".
So I spent the rest of our relationship trying to not make him angry.
His manipulation had worked. In my mind, I wasn't a victim, I was at fault.
I always told myself it was just moments of anger, that he was a good person, and I was the one who needed to change.
It never crossed my mind that he actually did not deserve me. It never crossed my mind that he was an abuser.
I had seen the advertisements of victims, with black eyes, and bruises all over their bodies.
I had heard the horror stories of people killed by their partners.
That wasn't me, so I wasn't in a violent relationship, right?
I got out of that relationship, but only because he ended it.
And I am so glad he did.
Now, I can look back on that relationship and see it for what it was.
But for me, it ended positively. I am free, and more importantly, I am alive.
It never escalated to extreme physical violence, but for many, many women, and men, it does.
And even when it doesn't, the emotional abuse, the financial control, the manipulation can wear a person down.
It is the ongoing abuse and threats that can destroy a person.
The victims who have lost their lives deserve to be remembered, but we also need more awareness about those living through violence, and psychological abuse right now.
We need people to know that family violence is not just violence, it is coercive control.
And it impacts more people than we realise.
That is why we have launched our new campaign - Fighting Back - to raise awareness about not only those who lost their fight against their abusers, but to create a new conversation around family violence that will hopefully see a shift in behaviour.
You can sign the petition appealing against fees for private interim family violence orders here.
For those seeking help, Family Violence Counselling and Support Service is available on 1800 608 122 from 9am to midnight weekdays, and 4pm to midnight on weekends and public holidays.
Telephone and online counselling is available at 1800 RESPECT or by calling 1800 737 732.
- Melissa Mobbs is a senior journalist at The Examiner
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