With Janine Lee – 

With 24 years’ experience working with people to save lives, Janine is extremely passionate about helping Queenslanders reduce ongoing domestic abuse.

Do you know “1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous partner since 15 years of age?”
SOURCE: AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AND WELFARE 2019

JANINE’S EXPERIENCE
I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was 7 years ago now and I felt this sense of complete, utter despair. I simply had no energy left and at times I believed I had no options, there seemed no way to make the abuse stop. The emotional hurt was almost a physical pain.

And-it-would-not-go-away.

I kept saying to myself, “HOW DID DOMESTIC ABUSE HAPPEN TO ME? Where did this come from?”

You see, my partner was an upstanding member of our community, highly regarded, a professional. He was very well respected for his many contributions to our local city.

I felt no one would ever believe me….

I was so ashamed. Here I was, a senior Detective in the New Zealand Police having worked for years on high-profile domestic violence homicides across the country, successfully managing complex criminal investigations …. yet I couldn’t speak out about the alarming abuse happening to me at home.

Why? Because the handful who were aware didn’t know what to do and there were no private domestic abuse specialists I could turn to for help – you see they simply haven’t existed up until now.

As an experienced investigator, this was the point I truly understood the utter devastation domestic abuse causes – not just to me, but to our children as well.

“My own experiences taught me our children are not witnesses to the abuse, they too are victims of the abuse. It wasn’t something any of us spoke of or were taught about.”

In the end I left, but I couldn’t do it alone despite years of incredible resilience, strength and specialist knowledge. I learnt that I too, needed support.

The initial time of physical separation gave me a moment to breathe so I could begin to put the strategies in place in my own life that I knew so well from working with others to keep them safe. It was never going to be easy, but the good news is I haven’t looked back since.

I quickly moved into a national domestic violence leadership role within the Police, delivering safety solutions and high-risk protection to numerous victims and their families of domestic and sexual violence including child protection and led Domestic Violence related projects on behalf of the New Zealand Police. This included the 2018 publication of new ‘Victim Relocation’ national policy and practice guidelines.

SO I THOUGHT, HOW CAN I CHANGE THIS?
Upon the acknowledgement of domestic abuse through sources such as the ‘Royal Commission into Family Violence’ in Australia, I packed up my belongings and moved to Queensland in early 2018, recognising I could make an even bigger difference here.

It’s much more common than you think Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, just like it did to me. It doesn’t matter who you are. Regardless of your age, where you live or how much you earn, domestic abuse doesn’t discriminate in anyway, nor does it care about your religion, disability, sexual preference or gender.

Now I help people, especially women to keep themselves and their families safer by providing high quality private and confidential domestic abuse safety planning and support services tailored specifically to their personal needs.

What I know is these strategies do work – it just takes time and lots of understanding. I would highly recommend:
» Getting support from a specialist where you can.
» Leaving can be a very dangerous time – if you are thinking of leaving an abusive relationship, safety planning is so important.
» Familiarise yourself with what controlling and abusive behaviour may look like, e.g. “put his hands on my throat … didn’t mean to … apologised later … promised it wouldn’t happen again.”
» Increase your knowledge – what does high risk look like for you? Did you know stalking, recent separation or attempted separation and strangulation are all high-risk indicators that can lead to serious harm?
» Do you know what a healthy relationship should look like? I would encourage you to take my short quiz. It will only take 3 minutes of your time but it could change your life.

TRUST AND CONFIDENCE
“As difficult as it is for you to share your experiences, let me assure you, there is very little I haven’t already heard or helped others manage over the years. We don’t make these things up, we simply don’t – in fact we more than likely minimise what we share with others.”

Building trust and rapport is a vital part of this process. “It is so important to take the time to get to know our clients, to go at their own pace. It doesn’t matter how many times we have to travel down the same path together. If the same thing comes up time after time, that’s OK, it’s all part of the journey, taking one small step at a time.”

Just please know this – there are always, always options.

HERE ARE A BUNCH OF JANINE’S
TIPS TO BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY UNDERSTANDING DOMESTIC ABUSE:

  • Safety plans are essential.
  • You should never be fearful in your own home.
  • We believe you. Domestic abuse is not your fault – you did nothing to deserve this – you did not create this and you certainly aren’t doing anything to cause it to continue.
  • Domestic abuse is very rarely a one-off incident. It’s an ongoing pattern of violent, threatening and/ or abusive behaviours used to dominate, coerce or control another person you see frequently in a close personal relationship or live with.
  • It causes someone to fear for themselves or another person and can isolate you very quickly from your family and friends.
  • What happens at home will impact every aspect of your life and/or the lives of your children – it will eat away at your health, quality of education, work, relationships, self-confidence, change behaviours and your decision-making.

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