Q&A With Lisa Lee: STOP Domestic Violence Conference Ambassador
Lisa Lee is a STOP Domestic Violence Conference ambassador and domestic violence survivor.
She is also a Mum of children who all bear their own emotional scars and trauma after years of growing up with domestic violence.
Lisa is a self published author of ‘Why I Stayed’, written in response to the many times she was asked why she stayed in a tumultuous relationship for so long. She founded Lisa’s Sanctuary after beginning a healing journey in an effort to educate, empower and bring hope. Find out more about Lisa in our exclusive Q&A.
Why did you decide to become a STOP DV Conference ambassador?
I am passionate about shining a spotlight on Domestic Violence. We cannot put a stop to Domestic Violence individually or even as an industry alone. It has to involve every single one of us working together, supporting each other and standing up against Domestic abuse as a nation. In order to do this, we must educate everyone and create awareness of the signs, preventative measures and available support. My vision is to create awareness of what DV is, the impact it has on families and communities and assist in offering support, education, empowerment and strength to whoever needs it.
Do you have lived experience with DV?
How did you manage to leave the relationship?
I left my relationship in 2012 after 14 years together. I had been living with domestic violence for a lot of those years but didn’t realise it had a name. It was really the last 5 years that I learned about DV and began to understand and acknowledge my relationship for what it was. I had previously pressed charges for assault and applied for an Apprehended Violence Order in 2009 but it was a weekend in 2012 that changed my life.
After an entire weekend of cheating accusations, verbal and physical abuse, threats and damage to my property I started to believe and fear he would kill me. It was a very intense and frightening weekend and I knew I had to get out. I tried several times to carry out my plan of running away but was unable to. On the Monday, I went to work as normal hoping to make the provisions to leave but the abuse continued to escalate. When he rang my workplace (a primary school) threatening to come up and harm me, the police were called, my children brought to me and our school went into lockdown. It was then that I had the strength to press charges, apply for an AVO and begin the process of separation.
Did you feel that the services available are able to provide enough support for those in need?
I was immediately linked up with the Staying Home, Leaving Violence program. I was assigned a support worker who I found to be very supportive, caring and approachable. The team of police officers who assessed my home for safety concerns were also very informative and respectful. I had access to legal support which I used for advice and found useful. Counselling for myself and as a family was also available which I didn’t utilise but now wish I had.
I feel like there is always room for more services, support workers, refuge and emergency accommodation as everyone experiences a different level of need but overall I was satisfied with the initial response I received from services.
What else do you think could be done to ensure those impacted by domestic or family violence are better supported?
I believe that further police training in recognising DV, taking victim statements and offering unbiased and practical support is essential. After many conversations with survivors, I also believe that training police in the importance of taking AVO breaches seriously and pursuing those breaches is something that would benefit victims.
I feel that court support and advocacy is an important service that should be more readily available. Having a trained support person to accompany the victim to court would be invaluable. Someone who can speak on your behalf to police and solicitors especially when it feels too overwhelming to ask questions or process large amounts of information.
How did the experience impact you?
The experience has changed who I am. I became withdrawn and isolated myself throughout my relationship. I had no self esteem or self confidence whatsoever and I constantly walked on eggshells. I didn’t like who I was or my life. I just felt no peace or joy in my existence. Leaving my relationship was difficult and the scariest thing I’ve done but so worth it. I’ve had to delve deep into my trauma and begin a process of healing which is still ongoing. Since I left, I have graduated from University, built my home, founded Lisa’s Sanctuary and I continue to work on my own personal development
What do you do to help the community prevent and recover from domestic and family violence?
I tell my story to everyone and anyone who asks. I believe silence hides violence and there are lots of people living DV or know someone who lives with DV and they can’t pinpoint it until they hear someone else’s story. So I’m very open about my experience. I founded Lisa’s Sanctuary which is on Facebook and Instagram to offer support, education and empowerment to anyone who needs it. I write blog posts which I hope resonates with people. I also put pen to paper and wrote my story ‘Why I Stayed’ which was republished this year. It’s a raw, tell all story of my childhood leading up to my DV relationship, what I lived, how I got out and my healing journey since.
What things can everyone do to help prevent domestic and family violence?
Be aware of the signs and behaviours of DV. Check your own behaviour. If you find something questionable, acknowledge it and change it. Teach your children, nephews and nieces about respectful relationships, what they look like as opposed to what abuse looks like. Check in with your family and friends in relationships. Communicate with those around you and let people know you won’t tolerate domestic abuse and follow through with it. Ensure your family and friends know they have a supportive, non-judgemental hand in you. We can all do our part but it takes all of us doing our part in order to see real change.