Victim speaks out to encourage wider discussion of violence

THE man of the house, a stable, honourable and protective figurehead - is one whom you hold as a benchmark for future relationships.

Except when that man, your father, is the reason for your suffering.

Emma* considers herself a survivor of abuse from her father.

An advocate for expanding the classification of victims, Emma wishes to spread the message that while violence is pervasively common in domestic relationships, focus needs to be aligned on a broader spectrum.

"I do not know of another adult who is being abused by their parent," she said.

"I'd like to get people openly talking about parents abusing adult children, to increase community awareness and research and thus funding on this type of family violence."

Emma was not the only member of her family to endure suffering.

Threats to her children's lives, of suicide, stalking and manipulation were some of the psychological torments imposed upon her.

"Due to the unusual source of the family violence, I did not speak openly with family and friends about the abuse occurring," she said.

"Society expects children to show respect and care toward parents for the nurturing they provided us as children. I found it hard telling a few close people of the abuse.

"Their immediate reaction was disbelief because why would a parent harm a child?"

Fear is an emotion victims of abuse become accustomed to.

In Emma's case, it was not only from her father, but included the negative stigma from society.

Entrenched in their isolation of being minority group victims, a lack of response often exacerbates the issue.

The father figure, traditionally a cornerstone of trust in the family unit, grossly abused the relationship over decades.

With abuse only beginning in her adult years, it was a disorienting stage of Emma's life as she re-evaluated previous memories.

"The bond between parent and child is sacred; they created me," she said.

"I found it difficult to accept, being in the highest position of trust and respect in my life, yet my parent behaved like this."

Emma urges all victims of emotional, psychological and physical abuse to surround themselves with the positive support they need to realise the title "victim" is not of their choosing - or a reflection of character.

*Name has been changed for individual's protection.

Topics:  abuse domestic violence editors picks family violence gladstone

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