The How Dare She? Series

In 2018, my (then) 15 year old daughter and I started How Dare She? a social enterprise dedicated to creating a platform where women were encouraged to do the things they’ve been told they shouldn’t. We wanted to be part of something that builds women up, not tears them down, and we wanted to amplify the voices of women you don’t always hear from. We did just that – delivering a platform, a process, and a (full mentoring, editing, and publishing) support crew for women who would have never otherwise told their story. This is one of those stories.

by Laura Waterman​

Content note: this post contains descriptions of violence that may be distressing to some readers. Please reach out to one of the organisations listed at the bottom of this post if you need support or resources.

I was 20 when I met him.

I was working in a bar, and my previous relationship had just ended. I’d been cheated on and heartbroken, and then Mike* walked in for a beer. He’d come in every day after he finished work to have a drink and we’d chat. Eventually, things progressed, and soon we were seeing each other every day. I was spending nights at his house, he was saying all the things a girl wants to hear, things were good.

I moved in only three months after we started seeing each other, and it didn’t take long before our first blow out. And by blow out, I mean that Mike snapped and yelled at me for something insignificant. Instead of apologising, he went and sulked in the bedroom until I went in. He told me that that behaviour wasn’t like him and that he was just stressed. I believed him and tried to make him feel better about what had transpired.

Things escalated pretty quickly.

He was drinking, a lot. He would get so drunk that he couldn’t stand properly and he’d start throwing things. He’d yell horrible things at me and tell me to pack my bags and get out. The times that I did pack my things, he would then get angry that I was giving up on him.

He told me that he was dealing with depression and that that’s why he was behaving that way.

I felt like I was the only person there to help him, and that if I just loved him enough, things would get better.

They didn’t.

He stopped working, he increased his drinking, and his abuse escalated. He would smash things around the house, he would grab me by the arms and bruise me, he would come into the bedroom in the early hours of the morning to wake me up and tell me what a piece of shit I was.

I spent a lot of my energy pretending like everything was okay to everyone else. I didn’t want them to know that I was in that situation, that I’d allowed myself to get into that situation.

I still felt like I needed to protect him and help him through his depression.

He hated my family. Soon it became too hard to see them, the consequences when I got home were too much, so contact with them faded.

I was putting everything that I had emotionally into him, to try to help him.

Surely if I just loved him enough, all of this would stop and he’d be that nice guy from the beginning of our relationship again?

​Not even close.

Things kept getting worse. I would lock myself in the bedroom when I couldn’t take his abuse anymore, he would kick the door in, grab me, and continue yelling at me. While I was sleeping, on nights that I had to be up early for work the next day, he would get angry that I wasn’t up partying with him, so he would come in to the bedroom, wake me up, and pull me out of the bed and down the hall by my ankles while I was screaming and crying.

Then one night, he was drinking, and I had a bad feeling. I hit voice record on my phone, and sure enough, my intuition was right. Shit went down.

He grabbed me by the throat, punched me in the shoulder, hit me on the head, threw a drawer at me, and then stood over me, holding a lamp above his head as though he was going to hit me with it, and screamed at me while I was bawling and begging him to stop.

As he walked away he said that he thought it was funny that I was crying.

That was it. That was the line, and he’d crossed it. I knew that I had to leave. It took a whole week to get out. He wasn’t working, so I was hardly home alone, which meant I couldn’t pack anything. Anytime he did go out, I packed what I could and put it in my car. When I finally left, I went back to my parents’ house. My Mom took me to the police station and I applied for a DVO (Domestic Violence Order). When I went back to the house to get the remainder of my things I had a police escort.

Later, in the driveway, one of the police officers told me that my ex was showing all the signs of a serial abuser and that if I went back I would end up in a dumpster.

I had been second guessing myself until then, wondering if I’d been over-reacting by getting the police involved, but his words solidified for me that I’d done the right thing.

Mike continued to harass me and send me death threats until I had the DVO amended to No Contact, but even after that, he managed to hurt me. I found out later that the German Shephard and cat that we had together and I’d allowed him to keep, he’d abandoned them. The woman who he left them with had re-homed them and after contacting me about them, refused to give me the details about where they were. I was so heartbroken. I was more hurt and broken over that than anything he’d ever done to me.

Leaving was the scariest, hardest, and best decision I’ve ever made.

I can’t explain to you how hard it was, but what’s even greater than that is the happiness that I’ve found since. If you’re in this situation, please take my word for it, there is a life so much better out there waiting for you,

you just have to take the steps to get there.

If you or a loved one is experiencing physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse, please reach out to one of the resources provided below:

TIS – translation and interpretation service
131 450

1800 Respect – National sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line
1800 737 732

Relationships Australia – relationship support services for individuals, families and communities
1300 364 277

Kids Helpline – free, 24 hour counselling service for young people aged 5-25 years
1800 551 800

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and I started a life-revolution with a need to write things, $0 in the bank, a borrowed laptop, and a disability – all driven by a desire for the amplification of women’s voices

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Women’s Business

Women’s Business

The How Dare She? Series In 2018, my (then) 15 year old daughter and I started How Dare She? a social enterprise dedicated to creating a platform where women were encouraged to do the things they've been told they shouldn't. We wanted to be part of something that...