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In 2005 I had been a battered husband for 3 years. After the birth of our daughter my girlfriend changed and suddenly I was the victim of physical, social and emotional abuse. I figured it must be post-natal depression but as time wore on I realised it was not. She would suddenly snap for no reason and throw whatever was on hand at me - a cigarette lighter, a baby’s toy. It was extremely bad when she had been drinking. We lived in a remote area and when she threw a fishing knife at me while I was feeding our daughter (narrowly missing us) I rang the police and reported it in case she killed me later that evening and then embellished the truth.

A week later the police had served a DVO on her under the new legislation where if they hear about domestic violence they act on it. We went to court and I told the police prosecutor I didn’t want a DVO. I told him this only because I was under extreme pressure from my girlfriend and her family for her to take my daughter and leave me. I believed correctly that a DVO was 2 years mandatory. The decision was a 6 month DVO. The police prosecutor did not tell the judge that she threw a knife at us. At the court the domestic violence ladies supported my girlfriend and as the aggrieved spouse I received zero support.

A couple of months later the John Howard campaign of “Violence against women is wrong” was in full swing. I rang the hotline to get some support and they refused to talk to me because I was a man. They told me to ring the man’s hotline. It was unattended and rang out.

The only reason I stayed living with my girlfriend was for my daughter’s sake. I did everything in terms of caring for her. Eventually, while mum was in town drinking, again, I packed up my car with everything it would carry and then some, put my 3 year old daughter into the baby seat and drove out of there. I initiated and fought family court from a considerable distance away. It initially became shared care, mum didn’t bring my little girl back on time and rang me to tell me she had no intention of bringing her back. Following a successful recovery hearing the state police in her location made my girlfriend and my daughter get on a plane. State police in my location met the plane, took them to the police station for hand over. Mum was flown back the next day. Child Safety paid for the plane. I had full custody and responsibility until final orders.

A year later mum failed to appear in court, she had been cut off legal aid for not returning any phone calls and failing to turn up to any meetings they arranged in her location. It was all over in 10 minutes. I had final orders and it was ordered by the court that I have full custody, responsibility etc, and get this: contact as can be agreed between the parties but only in my location during daylight hours. In the past 5 years mum has made the effort three times to seek contact. On one of those occasions she failed to turn up 4 days in a row. The other occasions I agreed to 2 hours on one day only at a playground (location was mum’s idea).

It’s a real shame my little girl doesn’t know her mother but she’ll never grow up to be like her. For me: I’ve been riding a wave of celebration and relief every waking second since Final Orders on May 15, 2006. I love being a single dad. My priorities are my family not my career. As a teacher I would expect to be in an admin position in a school by now had I not chosen to fight for my daughter. Instead I’m a relief teacher and work in a different school every day. Fits in great with my responsibilities as a dad. And Family Court was the best $20,000 I ever spent. It’s worth every penny.

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