Ch. 10 One Wednesday Afternoon

She sat very, very still. It was an ordinary Wednesday afternoon; in an ordinary classroom. We were running a workshop for young women from Year 9 to Year 12; discussing Domestic Violence. They were the Girls' Rugby Team and they were tough ladies. We were working through what a positive relationship looked like and what a destructive relationship looked like. We were speaking about power and control versus care and commitment. She was so still. She said nothing.

On Monday morning, she came and found me. She hugged me and said, 'Thank you". I was a little confused and asked, 'What for?".

"Miss, I realised that he was never angry with me because I never, ever, said "No" to him. I was being so careful not to upset him that I always just agreed with whatever he wanted. I never argued when he did not want me to see my friends; or he told me not to wear something; or that I couldn't go somewhere. I never argued when he checked my 'phone or wanted to know who I was talking to. I never contradicted him. After our workshop, I decided that if I wanted to say "No" that I would. So, I did. Miss, he went off! He took my keys, he threatened me and yelled at me. He was so aggressive. And... Miss, I knew what to do... I rang my girlfriend and she came and got me and we went to my parents. They called the police. I was honest with Mum and Dad and they helped me too. I cannot thank you enough...I didn't even know."

I looked at this young woman and the stillness was gone. She was worried and bothered but she wasn't scared anymore. She had known on the inside that things were not right but had no way of really expressing what the 'not right' feeing was. By talking we had given her words and strategies to be proactive in her own life. None of the teachers or support staff involved in the workshop knew anything of this young woman's relationship; however, by facilitating the opportunity to learn, her life trajectory completely altered one Wednesday afternoon.


Kate Bricknell