Louise Coleman left her partner after five years of violence quite suddenly. She hadn't made firm plans to leave but it was always in the back of her mind, particularly after multiple acts of violence. Still, this day was the decider.
"It was never in front of the children but on the day I left, he started to strangle and suffocate me. I was worried I was going to die. Adrenaline kicked in and that was what saved me," she says.
"My older daughter came out and saw him lying on top of me, pinning me down with his knees. I told her, 'Mum and Dad are playing. Go back inside'," she says now, six years after she took her children and escaped to safety.
She says her friends considered him to be perfectly normal, a good person.
"He showed face as a good guy, helpful."
She told some of her friends and family about what was happening. Eventually, she made the choice to leave to provide safety for her children, Charlie and Olive, and herself.
Coleman, 37, has just started her own business as a counsellor, after attaining a graduate certificate in Family Violence at Chisholm TAFE. Her former partner lives in a separate part of regional Australia and has no access to the children.
One in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a man they know, according to Our Watch, which works in primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia. Associate Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon, director of the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre says violence against women is a national crisis in Australia.
"We see some fluctuations in the number of women killed in any given year but the levels are consistently unacceptable and alarming. We need a sustained commitment at every level - prevention, early intervention, response and recovery," she says.
Coleman survived multiple attacks. Professor Fitz-Gibbon says femicides represent just the tip of the iceberg of violence against women.
"The prevalence of non-fatal violence against women that sits underneath is devastating," she says.
Women's safety advocate Kristine Ziwica says the government's draft national plan to end violence against women has significant flaws. There are, she says, no clear targets to end violence and no mechanism for evaluation of any programs.
"After 18 months of consultation and three years after the auditor-general's scathing evaluation of the lack of targets in the first national plan, it's astonishing there has been no progress," she says.
"We have known we needed them for three years. In the absence of these targets, there is no confidence that this plan will move to clear measurable action," she says.
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