The photograph I’m holding was taken on my wedding day in 2002. Like any new bride, I was looking forward to a fairy-tale life of marital bliss. The marriage ended in Dec 2011, shortly after my brain tumour diagnosis.

On Mother’s Day of 2011, my daughter, then aged 7, watched me faint, as her father punched me on the head, traumatised from the thought that I was dead. That day, truth finally hit me. We were both victims of domestic and family violence.

There was always violence in my relationship with him even back in the days of our courtship. My intuition told me to not marry him. I ignored it. There was time to stop the wedding preparations. I felt trapped.

It’s not that I wasn’t educated and didn’t know what to do. Of course, I could have left. I was too blindly in love with him.

I yearned for love and acceptance due to a compromised childhood in a family where violence and paedophilia was the norm. I found comfort in his possessiveness – misconstruing it as love.

His every push, shove, threat, every act of spying on my phone, ultimatums to choose him over my family, every apology that immediately followed those countless fights, convinced me that it was my fault. I vowed to improve myself – talk less, laugh less, stop complimenting others, start complimenting him, never discuss my family in his presence, always praise his decisions, always agree with his gambling and drinking habits, never criticise, never question. Never, ever question.

I allowed him and others to treat me violently. I began self-harming. Late 2010, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. We were in Auckland, NZ at the time. He couldn’t cope with my illness. His violence worsened. I began to get help from my GP and a counsellor.

The punch on my tumour-ridden head on Mother’s Day was the final wake up call. I gathered the courage to call the police. Despite suffering reporter’s remorse, the police assured me that the law was there to protect me and my daughter.

His family hated me for it. It was a huge blow to their cultural norm. The woman must maintain silence no matter what happens.

I was a published author and a freelance journalist by that stage. I felt compelled to give my daughter a safe, joyful, and secure life. I packed my life in boxes, returned to Australia and started a new life with my daughter.

It took me five years of therapy and daily personal development coaching to understand that I am Not my experiences. Rather, I am the Force that overcomes them.

I now work in the community to help others heal from the trauma of domestic and family violence through counselling, life coaching and Clinical Nutrition. I teach survivors to switch from the victim’s mindset to the victor’s mindset. DV, de Victoire, of victory.