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Fortunately, I have an incredibly supportive and loving wife and a deeply, mutually respectful relationship.

My father wasn't so lucky.

My childhood is predominantly filled with memories of a good, honourable, simple man being belted from one end of the house to the other. Taught "never to hit a woman," every night we could see the confusion on his face and he tried desperately to protect himself.

Limited to grabbing and pushing her away, she would inevitably land a few punches... if he managed to protect himself, she would go get a knife, or a vase, or a meat tenderiser. Looking back it amazes me how common place we viewed these very serious weapons.

Sometimes he would lock himself in the bathroom... she would belt and kick on the door for hours upon hours while my sisters and I hid in fear.

Other times she would pretend to have "calmed down" until he was sitting reading or watching TV, then sneak up behind him and start punching him in the back of the head. Or her favourite, waiting until he was asleep then sneak up and start punching him.

When I started showing signs of manhood, she started on me. Verbal abuse only at first... then pushing... then, as she screamed at me one night while I lay in bed pretending to be asleep, I felt a blinding, searing smash across my face. Her fist. I felt, only once, what my father had been feeling for years.

Dad immediately stepped in... mostly I just saw him frustrated and sad, this time he was angry... I realised that the question my sisters and I had asked over and over again, "why does he stay" had been answered... to protect us.

He grabbed her and dragged her from my room before she could land a second punch on me. He told her that if she ever hit either of us kids again he would fight back... I guess that was his breaking point. She must have realised he meant it... because she picked up a big, heavy blue glass vase and swung it at his head.

As blood poured everywhere, as held his head and fell to the ground, as I raced to dial 000, I heard those words that still ring in my ears "my God, you've done it this time Judy, you've finally killed me".

Fortunately we got him to the ER in time, he was saved. We got home at 5am, at 6:30 I left for school for my final years exams... 1/4 out of 60. I failed, and flunked out of school.

It has taken my sisters and I decades to get over what we saw. It destroyed our family, it destroyed our lives.

I have deep sympathy for anyone going through this at the moment... but if you are going through this you need to gather evidence. No one will believe you, no one believed my Dad. You need to get your children out. You need to get out. Even if your kids are being used against you (as we were initially against Dad) they will see the truth eventually. But they need to be protected, you need to protect them... and you can't do that by staying in a violent situation.

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