aTHE first time it happened, I thought it was just a one off. I thought I had pushed him too far. He had always been so kind and nothing like this had ever happened before, so I gave him the benefit of the doubta.
aAnd then I found myself giving him the benefit of the doubt again and again and again.a
Mary (not her real name) is not alone. The university educated 31-year-old spoke to the Daily on what would have been her seventh wedding anniversary
aI met Dave at uni. He was the life of the party whenever we went outa[degrees]just one of those really popular guys everyone wants to be around. When he first started chasing me, I couldn't believe it because I was just some plain Jane from the country. Looking back, I think he wanted someone to control.a
After three years together, the couple decided to get married.
For the first year, awe were your perfect picture of domestic bliss. If you ignored his drinking and the insults that followeda.
And then one day, Mary broke a plate.
aIt was just a dinner plate, a wedding present I think and he just snapped. We'd been fighting earlier but he had never reacted like that before. I just remember looking up from the broken bits to say a[approximately]oh no' and there was his fist. I think I blacked out because I came to on the kitchen floor.a
Dave was repentant. Solicitous even. He blamed his drinking and promised to stop.
aThe next time he hit me he broke my nose. He said it was because of stress at work. It's not as if he hit me every night. I think it was six months between the first and the second time. But no one had ever struck me before and Dave was the only man I had ever been witha[degrees]I just didn't know what to do.a
Neither do many of the nearly 15% of Australian women the Personal Safety Survey of 2006 found had suffered violence in the home.
Exact figures can be hard to find as domestic and family violence is often an unreported crime but research at a national level has found that one in three women over the age of 15 has experienced physical violence.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported in 2005 that women were mostly assaulted by a man they knew and with whom they had or had had an intimate relationship.
It is estimated domestic and family violence costs Queensland's economy up to $3.2 billion each year.
Valerie Holden, the family and relationship services coordinator for the regional family and domestic violence service on the Sunshine Coast, said the latest statistics showed the Coast was no better or no worse than other regions.
From July last year to last month, SCOPE and Centacare supported 967 women as they went through court on domestic violence matters.
Another 228 women were referred to the agency for assistance by police after the officers attended domestic violence incidents between January and March. Nearly 440 women have required counselling, the service providing 48 sessions a month.
There is evidence that stereotypes about domestic violence, (aLike it only happens to weak women who have no education and just don't know any better,a Mary said of the stereotype) are slowly changing as the crime emerges from behind the closed doors of family homes. …