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Opinion: Listen to the powerful voice of victim survivors

Curiosity is a sign of respect and I long for a time where we are driven by a genuine desire to learn from victim-survivors and purposefully work at understanding the very people we want to help.

Russ Vickery is not an ‘ideal victim’ of domestic violence. But his story is so similar to mine.

The abusive relationships we had suffered through may look starkly different on the surface, but under that it seemed to me like our perpetrators had read the same instruction booklet.

‘His comment during my labour shocked the midwife.’ Why we need to criminalise coercive control.

We are asking for a wider change; education for police, the judicial system, front line services, and our whole community. Giving victims a way to name this behaviour is important. We also need to be able to deliver a clear message to every single person in our community – that this behaviour, and the abuse of power and control in relationships, is completely unacceptable; it is criminal.

‘We worry this year might be particularly high’: Family violence expected to spike during post-COVID Christmas

“I think that society has this historic view of what family violence looks like – a drunken man coming home and beating his wife,” she says.

“It goes much further than that and it is unacceptable when you make somebody scared, when you humiliate them, or intimidate someone, belittle someone, or seek to try to control them.

“If that’s the way you are responding to stress then you do need to assess your behaviour and reach out and get help around that.”

Australian woman recounts horrific domestic violence relationship amidst coercive control debate

RN Breakfast has explored the issue of coercive control – something many Australian survivors are hoping will become a criminal offence.

Here’s the harrowing experience of one woman, Geraldine Bilston, who is advocating for coercive control to be criminalised.

Listeners are warned this content is highly distressing. If you or anyone you know needs help, you can call the Respect Hotline, on 1800 737 732.

5 Signs You Might Be in a Controlling Relationship and Expert Advice On What To Do

“Our relationships should be uplifting, respectful and places of safety and comfort,” says Geraldine Bilston, Deputy Chair of Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council and a victim-survivor. “But what happens when they aren’t?”

“How can you tell if a relationship that started out as something exciting and exhilarating is now abusive and controlling?”

She asks some pretty poignant questions. Asking questions is the first step to recognising that there are controlling signs in your relationship, that you can’t “fix” and may need to remove yourself.

Ahead, Bilston shares five telltale signs of controlling behaviour in a relationship to look out for, and what to do if you find yourself facing them: