AFTER experiencing domestic violence herself and losing her daughter Jessie to violence, Judy Cate is now an advocate and voice fighting violence against women.
In an effort to shine light on what women and families go through who are faced with domestic violence, Ms Cate spoke of her ordeal at a Domestic Violence Action Group (DVAG) event last Thursday.
Ms Cate’s experienced domestic violence her whole life.
Her father was an alcoholic and she remembers her parents’ relationship being abusive due to her father’s drinking problems.
“My mother left my father but was then with a man who sexually abused me as a teenager,” Ms Cate said.
“I’ve experienced abuse all my life and so I guess I’m the best candidate to talk on the subject.
“I’m standing up for what I believe in to try and inspire others.”
Ms Cate said domestic violence in the community was “getting out of hand” and that “we’ve got to create a better environment for future generations by bringing awareness to the community and youth”.
Like many people who grow up in abusive environments the cycle of abuse continued into Ms Cate’s adult life.
Her ex-husband, who died in violent circumstances earlier this year, was also an alcoholic and was abusive when he was drunk.
“He hit me when he was drunk,” Ms Cate said.
“His attitude would change when he was drunk – he became rude and aggressive.
“He hit, pushed and shoved.
“He was nasty – and always blamed me.”
Ms Cate said there was a cycle of abuse and her ex-husband, like all “typical” abusers, played games and knew all the right things to say to give her hope.
“The cycle of abuse is they [the abuser] apologise and are on their best behaviour and you [the victim] get in a state of happiness then they take advantage of that happiness and become abusive again and the cycle starts,” Ms Cate said.
“I could like him one day and hate him the next.”
But after 15 years in that tumultuous relationship Ms Cate, with her five children, put an end to that cycle and left after child protection got involved and assisted Ms Cate to get help.
That help led to restraining orders for the children against their father put in place four years ago.
“I had left a couple of times before,” Ms Cate said.
But after her two oldest children were telling her to leave, there was no turning back.
Ms Cate said her ex-husband was on his best behaviour with the children in front of her but was verbally abusive and told them lies about her when she wasn’t around.
“I found this out from the girls once I left,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe it.”
“I felt sorry for my kids that they had to go through that.
“Because he had his own issues he put pressure on the kids and accused me of brainwashing them.”
But that’s what abusers do, according to Ms Cate who said one of the hardest things for people to understand is why women stay.
“It’s hard to leave,” she said.
“Women stay for a number of reasons.
“I stayed for the family unit, and I believed the kids would be safer with me because I didn’t trust him to be alone with them – because father’s have 50 per cent of the rights these days but I didn’t trust him to have that.”
Ms Cate said because the “abuse happens behind closed doors” victims try to fix the problems behind closed doors too.
She said a lot of women weren’t aware of the help out there and said the best thing was for them to talk to friends, or anyone who could help, to get out.
“If I can do it, they can too,” Ms Cate said.
“I’m glad to be a survivor because a lot of women aren’t.”