"As far as I remember, there was always ... some sort of violence in the house. It's just something we grew up with." - Atena
Airdate: 
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 20:30
Channel: 
SBS

Since the beginning of the year, eight women have died as a result of domestic violence. 

Over 12 months, on average, one woman is killed every week as a result of intimate partner violence, according to a government report.

This week, Insight takes you inside violent families again and revisits one of the most confronting episodes of 2014.

In this show, victims, perpetrators and experts come together to tell their very personal tales of violence and abuse in the home and share their thoughts on how to put an end to it.

Victims reveal the detail of what it's like to live in a violent home; perpetrators speak candidly about why they were abusive and how breaking away from ingrained behaviours, cultural expectations and gender roles remains constant struggle.

Presenter: Jenny Brockie 
Producer: Hannah Meagher 
Associate Producer: Saber Baluch 
Researcher: Anna Watanabe 

Join the discussion by using the #insightsbs hashtag on Twitter, posting on our Facebook page, or commenting on our Your Say page.

Victims of domestic or family homicide

The below visualisation and accompanying charts show the worst instances of family/domestic violence where victims have lost their lives. See the charts here.


Resources

Helplines

If you need help, please contact the following organisations. Call 000 if the situation is life-threatening.

 

Transcript

JENNY BROCKIE: Welcome everybody. Good to have you all here tonight. Atena, your mother was killed by your father almost four years ago. You were there when it happened. Can you tell us what happened?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Um, yes. Um, we were at the table at the function and my dad approached us.

JENNY BROCKIE: Now this was a big function, like a New Year function, is that right?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: Persian New Year?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes, it was Persian New Year. We didn't expect him to be there.

JENNY BROCKIE: Your mum had left him, hadn't she?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: About a year before?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: Now I should give a little bit of context here because there'd been violence and your mum had taken out an Apprehended Violence Order against him.

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: But that had been amended just days before that happened, hadn't it?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: That's right.

JENNY BROCKIE: So he was in a position where he could be in the same space as your mum?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes, that is right. So, yeah, I didn't have that option, I guess, to contact the police because like you said, he was allowed to be there. Throughout the night I was watching him making sure that he's not getting close to mum because he did ask me if he could talk to mum in private and I told him that that's not the place, nor the time, and that she wouldn't want to talk to him.

But when we was sitting after 11, thinking about what time we should leave, I suggested if we could have maybe one more dance, the last dance before we leave. So Tracy and I got up, started walking towards the dance floor. I noticed mum's not with us so I turned around and mum was sitting at the table talking to someone else that was sitting next to her, one of the other guests that was sitting at the table so she was having a conversation with them and she pointed out to me with her hand, like that, pretty much saying, you know, you go, I'll join you.

So I turned around and walked to the dance floor. I don't remember after how long I turned around and I don't know why I turned around and when I did I saw mum on the floor face down and I saw my dad with a knife being dragged away from her body. As soon as I saw that, I just started running towards him and I was just screaming: "You killed her."

He had a lot of people around him dragging him away and I got to him and I grabbed onto his jacket, I don't know, thinking that he's going to get away, and then someone was dragging me away from him and when I turned around I saw mum. This time she was actually on her back, so they'd moved her and she was unconscious, she had a lot of blood around her and there was a lot of people surrounding her. It was a horrific scene, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: And she died a little later in hospital?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yeah, she was taken to the hospital and when we got there they put us in a different room and not long after the surgeon came into the room and gave me the bad news that she didn't make it.

JENNY BROCKIE: Arman, you're Atena's brother?

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Mm-mmm.

JENNY BROCKIE: What was it like for both of you growing up in the household with your father, how much violence had there been in the build-up to this?

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Prior the separation, there was a lot of violence. I would say maybe two to three years prior to the separation the violence escalated, became a lot worse, and obviously with the continued threats and all the abuse, that's when we all decided to draw the line and leave.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you remember when that violence started as children? Was it always with you?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes.

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: Always?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: So as far as I remember, there was always, you know, some sort of violence in the house. It's just something we grew up with.

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: It was normal.

JENNY BROCKIE: What sort of things would happen in the house?

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Oh, arguments, depending on what they're arguing about, it might be a couple of slaps, it might be, he might take his belt and whip my mum or, or, you know, a full beating where you know he corners her and you know, kicks her, punches her.

JENNY BROCKIE: Was he violent to you as well?

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Towards all the children, yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what sort of things would trigger that violence?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: If there was a disagreement, yes, with him, so.

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Well that was the normal environment that we grew up in so yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: Aluta, we can't identify you for legal reasons. How did the violence start in your family?

ALUTA: It started within the first year of dating, it was more the emotional, the control side of things - controlling in a way that you "¦.

JENNY BROCKIE: Wanting to know where you were or not letting you do things, how did that work?

ALUTA: Yes, not letting me do things and always being compared to women of his culture, how things are done from his culture and his background. The way, how I looked, how I dressed. One of the things that he would say was like women are meant to be submissive.

JENNY BROCKIE: So how did it escalate?

ALUTA: It, it ended up in physical, physical violence from being emotionally abused.

JENNY BROCKIE: There was an incident that happened a few years ago, can you tell us about that?

ALUTA: One of the major incidents happened when we moved to Australia, the police were involved.

JENNY BROCKIE: Now he'd been to the police, hadn't he, and said he was scared of what he might do to you?

ALUTA: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: And then they came to your house?

ALUTA: Yes, police escorted him to the house. He was smelling of alcohol, he was driving his own car and police asked if he was okay, if he spent the night did I feel safe.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what did you say? Did you feel safe?

ALUTA: I didn't feel safe but at the same time I felt like I had no choice. Police left.

JENNY BROCKIE: Why did you feel like you had no choice?

ALUTA: Because of, because of all the control of, it's a strange country, new country, you don't know anyone and at the time I didn't know of any other services that were available for the, maybe to sort of seek help.

JENNY BROCKIE: So what happened that night?

ALUTA: As soon as the police left it started being an argument, escalated and it ended up being physical where he choked me and pinned me against the wall. So I removed his hands around my neck and then ended up my nails were on his hands and the neighbours must have rang the police. The police came around, and because he had scratches on his hands, never mind that I had bruises around my neck and everything and he was trying to do all these things to me, they ended up putting an order against both of us and ended up going to Court.

JENNY BROCKIE: You stayed with him for a while after that?

ALUTA: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: Why did you stay, do you think?

ALUTA: I didn't know what the next step to take, if I do that what's going to happen to myself, what's going to happen to my children?

JENNY BROCKIE: Gary, you're here tonight with your wife of thirty years, Muriel. You were violent towards her, what sort of things would you do? Did you hit her?

GARY CAMPBELL: Yeah, yeah, a few times, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: And why did you think it was okay to hit her do you think?

GARY CAMPBELL: I don't know, it was just the alcohol and you know, just at the time, you know. I know it wasn't good to do at the time but you know, just, it was just, it was just there, the violence was there, you know?

JENNY BROCKIE: Muriel, what was that like for you?

MURIEL CAMPBELL: Um, it was hard but, yeah, I don't know. I think it was just the fact that growing up through our lives, I know there was a lot of alcohol and violence around my family as I was growing up and, yeah, it sort of seemed like it was the normal thing. It was just routine as you were growing up.

JENNY BROCKIE: A normal way to react to conflict?

MURIEL CAMPBELL: Yeah, we used to see a lot of violence and as we grew up it just seemed to be everywhere all the time. So yeah, I sort of grew up, yeah, thinking that that was the normal way of life.

JENNY BROCKIE: Did you ever try to leave?

MURIEL CAMPBELL: Um, a couple of times I did leave our house to get away from him but it was either to other family members or maybe to a woman's refuge, yeah. But, yeah, because we were only young when we got together and yeah, I was always with him and he was always with me, it was just, just wasn't right that we were apart.

JENNY BROCKIE: Did you ever hit him?

MURIEL CAMPBELL: Um, in self-defence I did. We sort of used to have a fight every now and then but, yeah, sometimes it was controlled, like we'd have an argument and it wouldn't break out into a fight. But, yeah, sometimes it did and, yeah, I used to hit back, I won't lie.

JENNY BROCKIE: And verbal abuse as well between the two of you?

MURIEL CAMPBELL: Yes.

GARY CAMPBELL: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: Was there a lot of verbal abuse?

MURIEL CAMPBELL: Yes.

GARY CAMPBELL: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how serious would it get in terms of physical safety?

GARY CAMPBELL: Not, like I wouldn't, you know, like really harm her and that. I knew me limits, you know?

MURIEL CAMPBELL: If it got out of hand we sort of, one of us or someone who was around would ring the police and then, yeah, the situation would be like take one of us away and place us somewhere else or get us out of the situation and then a few days later, after it calmed down, we sort of came back together and sat down and had a talk and we said, we decided that, you know, once we've had the children that it had to stop because we didn't want our children growing up in the same environment that we did.

JENNY BROCKIE: Does it still happen sometimes?

MURIEL CAMPBELL: No.

GARY CAMPBELL: No.

MURIEL CAMPBELL: It's really good now.

TUI LELEISIUAO: When you label a woman perpetrating violence, there's not enough research as to why that woman is perpetrating violence in the first place. And I can certainly speak on possibly my own experience, having grown up with a mother who copped it and during many years. One could certainly say that she perpetrated violence but it was her survival, this was her survival, my mother survived, and I'm sure there are many other women out there who are survivors.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay. Harry, you want your face and your voice to be disguised tonight. Why, tell us why?

HARRY: The actions that I did to my wife are unforgiving.

JENNY BROCKIE: What sort of things did you do?

HARRY: I would belittle my partner, I would call her names, I would mock her, I would push her around, not physically. There have been a couple of occasions where it has been physical, but certainly I had a bad habit of pointing the finger at her and by doing so I would always push her into a corner.

JENNY BROCKIE: You said that you thought that yelling would fix things - that you were very angry and you thought that by yelling. Why did you think that would fix things?

HARRY: It was a default for me. I would go to yelling and I thought by yelling at my partner it would shut her down and I'd have the last say. And as the man, I thought I had to have the last say.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how intimidating would you be to her?

HARRY: It would make her feel - it would make her feel to a point where she goes: "I'd rather be dead than live with you."

JENNY BROCKIE: She said that to you?

HARRY: Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how did you react, Harry, when she said that to you?

HARRY: I couldn't understand it, I just couldn't understand what she meant by that. I didn't think I was hurting her. I didn't think I was at fault.

JENNY BROCKIE: So you thought this was normal, what you were doing was a normal way to behave?

HARRY: That's what I thought. I thought it was just the normal way of life.

JENNY BROCKIE: Tui, you counsel men who've had a history of violence and you've been violent yourself in a relationship. What sort of things did you do?

TUI LELEISIUAO: Um, yeah, my personal experience certainly excelled to yelling and certainly verbal abuse.

JENNY BROCKIE: Physical abuse?

TUI LELEISIUAO: No, there was line drawn there because"¦.

JENNY BROCKIE: Why did you drew that line?

TUI LELEISIUAO: Seeing my mum cop it. Seeing my mother getting a hiding and"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: So you vowed you'd never do the physical abuse but you did it, but you were involved in emotional abuse?

TUI LELEISIUAO: I didn't purposefully set out to be emotionally abusive but I certainly did have a problem with acknowledging one, how I felt, what I was feeling, what I wanted to say, and often yelling was, was my way out.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what did you grow up with?

TUI LELEISIUAO: I grew up since a little fella, I can certainly remember probably from the age of three even, in a very abusive family.

JENNY BROCKIE: And was that violence constant?

TUI LELEISIUAO: Yeah, it's all very nice to call it violence, it was just a way of living, I guess from my own background. The dad is the head of the family, very churchy, very submissive, superior/inferior, you know, you don't answer back to the old man. You do as you're told. I mean from a cultural perspective too, eye contact with my elders is no certainly not allowed. Well not allowed in the sense that it's a sign of probably intimidation which if I want I get another flogging.

JENNY BROCKIE: Looking at the recent high profile cases that we've seen in the media where men have killed women, do any of the men here kind of understand how it could get to that stage if you're really honest with yourselves? How that rage could lead people there? Can you understand that Tui?

TUI LELEISIUAO: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. And the difference is, the fact is that you have a choice, there is a choice involved, but I can certainly understand that rage, that anger, that emotion.

JENNY BROCKIE: And why is it in such epidemic proportions, that kind of rage and anger and the violence that we're seeing, that we're hearing about in families at the moment? Why do you think that is?

TUI LELEISIUAO: I guess, I mean I have my own story and I have a strong connection to a cultural upbringing which was pretty harsh and rough, but I also think too that the society in general, it's a tough love, toughened up type of attitude. You know, boys don't cry, boys are tough, you know, suck it up. You know, we're taught early on that that's how men live, that's how boys should, should be. I was never, ever taught to handle emotions and to handle my feelings.

JENNY BROCKIE: Tonight we're talking about violent families and how to change them. Arman, your father wrote you and your sister a letter from prison after he'd been gaoled for killing your mother?

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Mm-mmm.

JENNY BROCKIE: I'd like you to read out a section of that letter for us. Could you do that?

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Mm-mmm. "Think wisely, she was your mother but I am your father. I specially ask from Arman to think just like a man. Arman, you're an eastern man, a woman may not be able to feel a lot of what a man feels. An eastern man has pride and tenacity. He needs to see the facts and judge in a masculine and fair manner. It is true we live in Australia but we should respect our culture, traditions, customs and values."

JENNY BROCKIE: What do you think your father was trying to say to you there?

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Well, I guess he was trying to say, maybe he was justifying what he did and all of his actions were excused.

JENNY BROCKIE: How did he see his role in the family?

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: The way he saw his role in the family was that he was the head of the household. He had the final say. What he said went. If we, if we said otherwise, well, he would, he would abuse us.

JENNY BROCKIE: Atena, how can you feel when you read that part of the letter?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yeah, I wasn't surprised when I saw that statement in that letter, that he would address it to Arman and that Arman should understand him because he's a man, so.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you think he thought that you understood him as well as Arman did?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: No. I wouldn't expect that from him, no.

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: It's a male mentality that. I guess, as Tui said, it's probably, how he was raised and you know, in certain households, not necessarily looking at tradition, I guess it's not necessarily looking at cultures or religions, certain households, you know, there might be immense pressure on men to, to not express their feelings or to not, to not express their feelings, not express how they feel and to take control of every situation.

JENNY BROCKIE: Aluta, does any of that strike a chord for you when you hear that description of the way that, the way that the man saw himself in that situation in the household?

ALUTA: Yes, it does. Also I find it, the term man being the head of the house is, to me I find it very disturbing. What happened to men being protectors, nurturers and not the other way around.

JENNY BROCKIE: I mean of course it's possible for men to adopt those attitudes without being violent, isn't it? I just wonder where you think the difference lies there, I mean not everybody who sees themselves as the head of the household goes out and is violent to the family or violent to their partner. Tui?

TUI LELEISIUAO: Absolutely, I totally agree. But when there's violence involved, that's just pure and utter control. It's a sense of entitlement, it's bullying, it's violent and it shouldn't be tolerated any more.

JENNY BROCKIE: Aluta, how did you feel when you saw the high profile cases that have been around recently where people, women have been killed by their partners?

ALUTA: That sort of helped me also to not just accept what was going on and to sort of do something about the situation, start respecting myself more, start loving myself and start doing things more especially for my kids.

JENNY BROCKIE: Shar, we can't identify you for legal reasons either. But your ex threatened to kill you, what did he say?

SHAR: Well, he, I mean there was a lot of violence in the house as well but he basically told me that if he was to kill me he would do it in such a way that no one will know and no one can find out, so, yeah, that's pretty scary.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you separated a couple of years ago?

SHAR: That is right.

JENNY BROCKIE: What sort of things would he do to you, apart from that threat?

SHAR: Well it started off as an emotional abuse and, yeah, it went from there to physical abuse.

JENNY BROCKIE: What sort of physical abuse?

SHAR: He would start hitting me, punching me. One incident we were in a car and we were talking about something and I think that just, you know, made him really angry and he backhanded my while we were driving and the kids were in the car and they start screaming and stuff like that and I had to ask him to stop the car. But he didn't so I had to open the door and then he stopped and had to jump out and pull my kids out of the car.

JENNY BROCKIE: And there was blood?

SHAR: There was blood, yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: And the kids have been absolutely terrified?

SHAR: Yes, they were really young at the time but yeah, they were.

JENNY BROCKIE: Why did you stay with him and I'm interested in how you felt about that behaviour when you were in the relationship.

SHAR: Well I, at the time I thought it was normal. But once I was out of it, I realised that it wasn't.

JENNY BROCKIE: Did you ever push back at him?

SHAR: Yes, I did in self defence. In the beginning I never used to fight back, I just, you know, put a wall up and stuff and kind of keep to myself, but then once I had my children I started to fight back.

JENNY BROCKIE: And that made him even more angry?

SHAR: That made him even more angry, yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: Rod, do any of these stories sound familiar to you, particularly this idea of the male role in the household?

ROD BECKHAM: Oh, definitely, yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: Tell us how?

ROD BECKHAM: Well, I grew up and felt that it was a male's responsibility to be the strong silent, do as I say, I'm the one who's got the ideas, in control. And you know, that's the cause of my problems through my life really.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you were brought up in the country in Australia?

ROD BECKHAM: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: So this was tied up with your own sense of your own masculinity?

ROD BECKHAM: Yeah, well I sort of had an absent family, my parents, when I was growing up, and I was a big guy. Big guys, you know, strong silent, hard as rock sort of thing.

JENNY BROCKIE: Well there's nothing necessarily wrong with some of that but how did the it play out in the marriage, what were you doing?

ROD BECKHAM: Well, manipulating, not listening to any of Julieanne's ideas, not taking her feelings or emotions into, into what I wanted to happen. Like get into arguments and you know, I'd be violent and stand over and hitting walls and stuff, but, yeah, I'd be manipulating, bully, threaten.

JENNY BROCKIE: Did you use your size and your physicality?

ROD BECKHAM: Yes, certainly.

JENNY BROCKIE: To intimidate her?

ROD BECKHAM: Yeah, certainly.

JENNY BROCKIE: How did you do that?

ROD BECKHAM: Oh, stand over, punch walls, just yell, scream and try to"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: Did you ever actually hit her?

ROD BECKHAM: No, no. I was just having a tantrum, probably a good way to describe it, you know, haven't grown up.

JENNY BROCKIE: Julieanne, you've been married to him for 22 years now. What was it like to live with him when he was like that?

JULIEANNE BECKHAM: Oh, it, it was soul destroying because constantly the ground underneath me was being shifted. Anything we planned, it would, he, Rod would say we would do something and then we wouldn't actually wind up doing it so nothing ever made sense. You know, I could never, and I was always going why isn't this happening or why are you doing this and I would never get answers. I wouldn't actually even get a conversation - I'd just get shut out.

JENNY BROCKIE: And Rod, you say you were doing that to be manipulative, to manipulate?

ROD BECKHAM: Mm-mmm.

JENNY BROCKIE: What were you manipulating, what were you wanting to achieve?

ROD BECKHAM: To get my way, whether it made any sense or not, I got my way.

JENNY BROCKIE: Did you come from a violent family?

ROD BECKHAM: No. No. Probably remote, no feelings involved, no communication, no in-depth discussion. Just peripheral sort of, yeah, just peripheral. No depth.

JENNY BROCKIE: No deep and meaningful conversations?

ROD BECKHAM: Yeah, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: Julieanne, what about you, what sort of family did you come from?

JULIEANNE BECKHAM: I came from a very violent family and a very expressive family and so everything was expressed and there was a lot of family violence. A lot of drunken family violence, it was quite shocking. I had to help a lot when my mother was unconscious, I had to help revive her. Yeah, it was very terrible. So when I married Rod thinking he's the quiet, gentle man, but there's all sorts of kinds of violence and, you know, and they're not always overt.

JENNY BROCKIE: How many of the men who've been talking have violence in their backgrounds. Harry, what sort of violence in your family when you were growing up?

HARRY: As a young age I was always told my by father that I was a mistake. That I ruined his life and he blamed my mum for giving birth to me. He would threaten - he would threaten to kill my mother for bringing him to Australia and as a child all I remember him is grabbing her by the hair, pulling her down the hallway into the backyard with one hand and the other hand with a bat threatening to kill her. It wasn't - it wasn't a pleasant environment to be in and when she would say, or she wouldn't even have the courage to even talk because if she did she would be abused.

JENNY BROCKIE: Julieanne, I know that you were upset about the way your son was starting to behave towards you too, yeah?

JULIEANNE BECKHAM: Well, he was very aggressive to me, my elder son. He's a very angry young man and if, and any rules that I made or any kind of ground I tried to put down, he would always baulk at it and then he would baulk at it in front of Rod. He would just sit there and watch it and not respond and so I'd be in this escalating conflict with my elder son with a father sitting there doing nothing. And so then we would, we would wind up in an escalating fight about that. So it was just, it's just been on-going. And it has changed a lot lately.

JENNY BROCKIE: Tonight we're talking about violent families and how to change them. Arman and Atena, I just wonder how you felt listening to some of these stories and particularly these men talking about how they've been violent. What's it like for you hearing those stories?

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Um, from my point of view, it's great to see people coming out with their stories. I would have never imagined my father coming out and talking about his upbringing, what we did in the household, where he went wrong, because our household wasn't run like that. He was never wrong.

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yeah, he would never confess to his actions.

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: No, he wouldn't admit it.

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Probably because he wouldn't see it as wrong. He would just think, you know, that's how a man should be towards women.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how was he seen in the broader community do you think? I mean you tell the story of what it was like inside the family but how he was viewed in the broader community here?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: He was very well respected, well known amongst the community.

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: A pillar of the community. He was heavily involved, helped a lot of people so he was well known for a lot of his work and he did do a lot of good work within the community. When you see someone put so much effort and energy into building up a community, you wouldn't think that he would be abusive or violent. You wouldn't see him - you wouldn't see him as that type of person.

JENNY BROCKIE: Was it hidden or did some people just turn the other way?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: No, it was hidden, yep. So he was different in the community, like he wouldn't speak to them the way he would speak to us at home. So it was, it was a big shock to a lot of people.

JENNY BROCKIE: Did either of you feel that you could raise what was happening, the violence that was happening in your household, outside the family?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: No, no, only very, very close relatives knew.

JENNY BROCKIE: Did they know how severe it was in the lead up to what happened?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yeah.

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Yeah, they knew what was going on, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how do you feel now about that silence that existed around this for the whole of your lives, you know, the fact that it wasn't something that your mother obviously didn't feel that she could go out and tell people what was going on? How do you feel about that now?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: It is something that I guess people don't want to talk about, you know? Even if they're aware of such behaviours happening at home, your friends might be aware of it but you know, I guess their attitude would be like, you know, none of my business, I don't want to have anything to do with it. I don't want to know, I don't want to get involved.

JENNY BROCKIE: A private matter?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yeah, it's your business, I don't want to get involved. I wouldn't want to help, you know?

JULIEANNE BECKHAM: Can I just say women talk about it because they're taught to feel ashamed of it. You know, even women who get beaten up believe that other women who get beaten up deserve it. You know, so my mother said one day when my cousin came around and she had a black eye and she was only 17, it was her first boyfriend and I said to my mother: "You've got to tell her what she's in for, you've got to tell her not to stay with this boy", and my mother said: "Oh, she's probably not doing the housework properly or something and got smacked."

JENNY BROCKIE: Aluta, your ex's sister was staying with you both while this abuse was happening. Did she ever do anything? Did she ever intervene?

ALUTA: No, she never intervened. She would just turn a blind eye as if it didn't happen.

JENNY BROCKIE: Did you ever feel you could tell anybody what was going on at home?

ALUTA: No, no, because I felt like I would have been a loser, not being in total control of my family, it was an embarrassment to sort of just open up about what was going on.

JENNY BROCKIE: You're not keeping quiet now?

ALUTA: No.

JENNY BROCKIE: Shar, did your ex's family ever get involved or did they know what was going on?

SHAR: They knew what was going on. I mean, he's always been a violent boy ever since he was young, a teenager. He had a previous partner to that as well and did the same thing, domestic violence, and the same thing with me. So when I talked to them about it, their response was, you know, he's a good man, he's trying to do good things for the family and they totally turned a blind eye to it as so I can relate to what Aluta is saying.

JENNY BROCKIE: Atena, there's another part of that letter that your father wrote to you and Arman from prison. I'd like you to read that section out to us as well?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Okay. "When you know someone's trying to destroy you in any possible way, you would defend yourself and sometimes this defence results in a destruction of the opposing party. This sense of self defence is inborn and is legitimate for the survival of beings."

JENNY BROCKIE: And then later there's another bit that he said?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: "I am really sorry about what happened. I think I am also a victim of what happened."

JENNY BROCKIE: Why do you think he thinks he's a victim?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Because he's a man, I shouldn't even say he's a man, I'm sorry. He's a person that can't take responsibility for his own actions. He's always blaming others when he loses control.

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: Losing, I guess he's probably trying to justify what he did.

FEMALE: That's what it sounds like and I think he's probably upset because he's in gaol, that's it.

JENNY BROCKIE: Sorry, go on, what did you say?

FEMALE: I just said I think he's upset because he feels that he lost because he's in gaol.

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes.

FEMALE: It seems like that.

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: He's not sorry for what he did, he hasn't actually said that in that letter. He said I'm sorry for what happens to me. That sounds like he's saying he's sorry for getting caught but he's not for his actions. The fact that he's saying he's a victim.

JENNY BROCKIE: Sorry, someone wanted to say something here.

MALE: I just wanted to actually just ask the, how did you feel? I mean I don't know if it's too personal ask you that, when you actually got that letter from him how did you feel? Were you angry yourselves? Were you"¦.

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes. It's mixed emotions, yeah, it's indescribable because at the end of the day he is our father, you know, he's not just some stranger, because if it was just some stranger you could just feel hate and nothing but hate. But when this man is your father, he's the one that's raised you, it's mixed emotions. You do feel, I don't know.

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: There's some connection with us. Yeah, we did have good memories and we did have normal family moments where, you know, we were, even for a short period of time we might have been a loving family.

JENNY BROCKIE: Heath, you work with violent men, how typical is this story?

HEATH ADDISON, KEMPSEY FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES: I mean the most, the most vulnerable stage for a woman who's in a violent relationship is when she's actually wanting to leave that relationship and in that period post, that's the highest potential for lethality.

JENNY BROCKIE: And that's what had happened with your mum, yeah, she'd left the relationship?

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: I'd like to just go back to the section of that letter where your father referred to himself as a victim and I wonder whether that strikes a chord with any of the men here. Rod, did you ever think of yourself as a victim?

ROD BECKHAM: Certainly. I think all of us who have been perpetrators of in sort of domestic violence afterwards have seen ourselves as the victims, oh, I'm so sorry and I didn't know what I was doing.

JENNY BROCKIE: So what was the turning point for you? What changed in you?

ROD BECKHAM: I was losing my family. I was at the point where Julianne was going to leave, or I was going to leave, children were gone, you know, would have been gone too. Like that and I found I had to do something, the people I espoused to care about I had to do something to keep them.

JENNY BROCKIE: Julieanne, you thought there was a slightly different turning point?

JULIEANNE BECKHAM: It was my neighbour, because - this is how I see it anyway, because Rod was having one of those times when he was punching everything, he was right in my face screaming at me. It sounded like I was being killed in the house and it was a very devastating experience but my neighbour came around a couple of days later and she said: "I'm really, really sorry I didn't come and help you that day." And I said, well I didn't say anything, I was shocked, she said: "I thought you were being killed and I wanted to come and help you but I was too scared to come and help you." So I told Rod that when he come home from work and I think that shocked you. I think that shocked you into realising that it was much worse than you thought it was. That's how I see it.

JENNY BROCKIE: How did you get past that point, to stay together?

JULIEANNE BECKHAM: Well, because Rod, because I have a friend who is a worker with a men's help line, a men's referral service and he gave me the numbers for that service and I gave them to Rod and he, and he, he actually went off and got help.

ROD BECKHAM: Yeah.

JULIEANNE BECKHAM: So he started doing all the counselling. First of all individual counselling and then in a men's group.

JENNY BROCKIE: How did you feel in your first session with a group?

ROD BECKHAM: Um, very, very nervous. Quite scared. I think there was about twelve in the group.

JENNY BROCKIE: What were you scared of?

ROD BECKHAM: Um, showing myself, explaining, explaining who I was. I went in there with the idea that no matter what happens I'm going to be honest and I'm going to say what's going on for me and that was the scariest moment, one of the scariest moments of my life and when I first started opening my mouth and started to talk it just, things started to come out and I just started to, my body started to relax, you know, I started to feel like I was being touched with things, you know, and it was just the start of a process which is still on-going, never stop I don't think. But yeah, it was bloody scary.

JENNY BROCKIE: Harry, what was the turning point for you?

HARRY: Becoming a father to a daughter and just the memories of raising that violent environment. I vowed that I wouldn't turn out to be like my father and I needed to seek help. But I found it so hard to find help. I felt like I was just going around in circles trying to seek help to deal with my anger.

JENNY BROCKIE: Your wife said something to you about your daughter too, didn't she? What did she say?

HARRY: Words are sometimes sharper than a sword and what she said to me was: "How would you like it if your daughter was to go out with a bloke like you?" And that really scared me.

JENNY BROCKIE: Gary, how did you react when you first went to that behaviour change program?

GARY CAMPBELL: You know, it was sort of frightening at the start because it's bringing your, bringing everything back to you.

JENNY BROCKIE: You got quite emotional, didn't you?

GARY CAMPBELL: Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: What happened?

GARY CAMPBELL: Started crying and that because it brought up a bit of me past about the way me dad used to treat my mum, you know, really, oh, just through violence. You know, and sort of brought it back because I was, you know, we was only kids.

JENNY BROCKIE: What was the hardest thing for you to change?

GARY CAMPBELL: The hardest thing to change was to, you know, get off the grog and you know, start, you know, having feelings there for me wife and me kids and getting that love back to my family again, you know, changing.

JENNY BROCKIE: Why was it so hard to get off the grog? And how did your friends react when you did that?

GARY CAMPBELL: Well when, none of them come around anymore. They called me a pussy, you know, just not fun anymore, he's mot Gary any more, you know, big, you know, party animal and this and that. You know?

JENNY BROCKIE: And what about you Muriel, what have you done about the grog and your behaviour?

MURIEL CAMPBELL: Because Gary sort of doesn't drink any more and we go to church, and he does a lot of studies and stuff like that, yeah, I'll admit I do have a few drinks, but yeah, it's not much and yeah, but everything's the way we want it to be, we're back as a family, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you talk - do you talk about your anger?

MURIEL CAMPBELL: Yes. If I don't talk to him or he doesn't talk to me when things don't go right, it just builds up and builds up and then it makes the anger start again. And yeah, we find the best way to do, if there's something on our mind we sit down and we talk about it.

JENNY BROCKIE: Aluta, how does your ex-partner feel about everything that's happened now? Is there any sense of remorse or feeling that he did the wrong thing?

ALUTA: He's, um, as far as I'm concerned he still hasn't, hasn't changed. The intimidations, the constant intimidations are still there. Through his emails or through his communication and contact, I still feel like it's, I'm reliving it over and over in a different form. Not in, I don't have to live with him any more, we're no longer together but I still feel like he hasn't taken any responsibility.

JENNY BROCKIE: Harry, how hard is it for you to change? Are you still in your relationship?

HARRY: I am, as a whole family. It's very difficult to come to terms that you're a violent person, that you're an angry person. It was one of the stumbling blocks that I had to go and seek help in a men's behavioural change. I am changing very slowly and I'm becoming aware of my environment and the type of person that I was and the type of person that I am now. So the picture's not complete, it's a process and it's a hurtful process.

JENNY BROCKIE: Atena, I know that you also have something that you want to say about the situation your mother found herself in.

ATENA ABRAHIMZADEH: You have men that are so determined that even if you put a restraining order against them, you put them in prison, you know, you hide from them but they still, they still come after you. I mean the fact that my dad, my father did this in a public place just proves that it doesn't matter what you do, you know, he will do whatever he can to, to, to take his revenge. So what's the point? I mean how can women be protected? Those are actually living with men like my father, you know, how to protect them?

JENNY BROCKIE: Arman, what have you learnt as a man from the experience of your father?

ARMAN ABRAHIMZADEH: There is a right wave going about things and there is a wrong way of going about things and unfortunately in our case I've seen all the wrong things. And even though people might say that violence is a learned behaviour, I think at the end of the day it's up to the individual to make a choice and you want to make the right choice.

TUI LELEISIUAO: Could I just say one thing please Jenny.

JENNY BROCKIE: Yeah.

TUI LELEISIUAO: There are many flaws in our legal system and it's really weird that when you hit your partner, it's domestic violence, when you hit the postman that's assault. I don't understand the difference of this violence. So I guess there's lots of issues there but I would like to promote that men from here on today we can change our life tomorrow, we can be better role models, better dads, better men, and yeah, I wish you guys well, and thank you for the opportunity.

JENNY BROCKIE: Thank you, thank you very much. And that is all we have time for here but do keep talking on Twitter and Facebook, particularly about change and how best to stop the epidemic of family violence.