Mary’s ex used to hit her with an open hand and his fist.

The 29 year old Logan resident said: “I couldn’t anticipate it.

“I’d get the kids to hide in their room. He also came at me with a knife one time.”

Afraid to report him to police in case he tracked her down and ramped up the abuse, Mary’s ex was never issued with a domestic violence order.

But when she fought back one night, he had one of the orders taken out against her, which led to her son being put into foster care for a time.

Mary told *PS Logan: “I hit him because he was hitting me and I was trying to defend myself. He was surprised when I hit back, but he just kept hitting and I ran out the door. He then rang the police.”

Before that day, she remembers a time when “he had me on the ground, he was choking me and telling my son that this was my last day.

“All I said, that set him off, was that the kids don’t need to go to their room, that they’ve done nothing wrong.”

She added: “He would hit my son with a wooden spoon for not going to bed and hit his daughter over the head because she was not getting good grades.”

Mary, not her real name, spoke to *PS Logan in order to share her experience of the complexity and anguish of domestic violence, and to encourage other victims to leave their abusers.

She met her ex-partner when she was 21 and pregnant, and he was in his early 50s and a single father to a young daughter.

At the time they were living in the same unit complex in Eagleby, where Mary had support around her.

But after they moved in together he shifted the family to Yarrabilba where Mary felt isolated.

She recalled: “He seemed a good person at first and then he hit the drugs. First it was marijuana and then he turned to ice.”

Mary also smoked marijuana, but says she has now been clean for about three years.

She now suspects that her ex was “lacing” her marijjuana with ice when they were together because it was then that she noticed her mental health declining.

And she added: “He was a normal person, a caring and loving person to me and the children, but on ice, he hit me and the kids.”

Mary stayed in the relationship along with her son and her ex’s young daughter from 2015 until September 2021.

She recalled: “He was very manipulative. He would isolate and control … the abuse started in the first year."

Mary said the reason she did not leave him earlier was because she “felt trapped and had nowhere to go”.

With her mental health compromised, Mary was in and out of hospital every week for about two years because she wanted to kill herself.

It wasn’t until a male mental health worker helped her contact the domestic violence (DV) helpline and organised for her to stay at the hospital overnight that she eventually left for good.

But she said: “I was scared and shaking, I was frightened of him turning up at the hospital.”

It was only after she and her son had moved into a new home in a different suburb that she found out that while she had been in hospital, her ex-partner had tried to strangle her little boy.

The youngster also kept asking her why his dad, as he called him, hit them.

And after showing aggression in his prep class, he was suspended from school.

Mary said: “He did that because he’d learnt that behaviour”.

“Nearly all the time, he saw me being assaulted … that was maybe two or three times a week for a few years.”

But she said her son, who is now seven, had since received counselling, and was is now settled and loves school.

In a new relationship with a man who makes her feel safe, Mary said she had felt there was no one to turn to while she was in the violent relationship, but now knows there is help.

She recalled: “I had a constant battle between staying and going. I loved him and thought he would change. I was also financially reliant on him.

“He made me feel like I couldn’t get by without him.”

To those in a violent relationship, Mary had this advice: “Ring DV, get out, take what you can and don’t go back”.

Meanwhile, domestic and family violence organisation the Centre for Women & Co in Logan Central said its assessment and response team in Logan received 255 referrals in July alone.

But a spokesperson said there were many other similar services in Logan, so the number of local women seeking support would be significantly higher.

She added that she hopes the inquiry into how the Queensland Police Service responds to domestic violence victims, which wrapped up on August 9, will lead to a “long-term systemic reform”.

The independent inquiry was set up after several high-profile domestic violence murders, including the deaths of Doreen Langham in Browns Plains in 2021 and Hannah Clarke and her three children in Brisbane in 2020. It is due to hand its report to the State Government in October.

The spokesperson said: “We are looking forward to hearing the recommendations which will hopefully have a positive impact on police culture and attitudes around domestic and family violence.”

And for anyone considering leaving a domestic violence situation, the spokesperson said: “There is support out there”.

  • For help, phone DV Connect on 1800 811 811 or the Centre for Women & Co on 3050 3060.