Fiji-born Australian Princess Lakshman took five years of therapy and daily personal development coaching to understand that not only can she come out of her own trauma but she can also assist other domestic violence victims rebuild their lives as survivors.
Like any new bride, Princess R Lakshman was looking forward to a fairy tale life of marital bliss when the time for her marriage came. But soon, she found herself trapped in a cycle of abusive behaviour at the hands of her ex-husband.
It took her a decade to understand that this was domestic abuse and not a 'cultural norm' she had to accept silently.
- Princess Lakshman was in an abusive relationship for a decade
- She realised late her ex-husband’s behaviour was domestic violence
- Princess Lakshman now helps others suffering from family violence via counselling and life coaching
On Mother's Day in 2011, in the presence of her seven-year-old daughter, Princess Lakshman was punched by her ex-husband on her tumour-ridden head and that was the "final wake-up call". She decided to report to the authorities.
Princess Lakshman, a Fijian-Indian who is now an Australian citizen, told SBS Urdu that this realisation dawned upon her quite late despite the fact that she was a published author and a freelance journalist.
Listen to the first Episode of Princess R Lakshman's story
“I thought I was lucky enough to just faint, but had I died, what would happen to my daughter? This fear allowed me to gather the courage to call the police.
“Despite suffering the reporter’s remorse, the police assured me that the law was there to protect me and my daughter,” she recalled.
“I packed my life in boxes after 10 years of abuse, torture, and humiliation and returned to Australia from New Zealand to begin a new life with my daughter, as I felt duty-bound to give her a safe, joyful and secure life,” she said.
Her ex-husband's every push, shove, threat, spying on her phone, ultimatums to choose him over her family and countless fights after apologies, convinced Princess Lakshman that it was actually all her fault.
She said she yearned for love and acceptance as she had lived through a compromised childhood in a family where violence and paedophilia were rampant.
Second episode of Princess R Lakshman's story
“I found comfort in my ex-husband’s possessiveness, misconstruing it as ‘love’,” she added.
“I vowed to ‘improve myself’ – talk less, laugh less, stop complimenting others, start complimenting my ex-husband, 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,” recalled Princess Lakshman.
Third episode of Princess R Lakshman's story
Now, Princess Lakshman helps other victims of domestic abuse.
“I teach survivors to switch from the victim’s mindset to the victor’s mindset,” she said.
Princess Lakshman works in the community to help the victims of family violence through counselling, life coaching, and clinical nutrition.
Born into a Hindu family, she had converted to Islam out of her own accord after taking divorce.
“Many people asked me to change my name, but I kept it unchanged deliberately so that I could share my story when people ask me about my religion and my name,” said Princess Lakshman.
Princess Lakshman says that Islam was always close to her heart.
“I had the azaan (call for prayer) set as my alarm clock for a long time even before conversion as my best friend from childhood was a Muslim,” she recollected.
Princess Lakshman said that after the breakup with her ex-husband, she decided to do what she always wanted to do but could not embrace due to fear of others.
“I decided to convert to Islam out of my own will. After that, not only did my ex-husband's family but even my own cut off ties with me.
“But I am satisfied and feel soothing peace in this new phase of my life now by helping others,” she added.
For help of information on domestic violence, visit familyviolencelaw.gov.au
Those impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, and abuse can get also advice and be referred to a facility by calling 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. They can also call Link2Home on 1800 152 152. In an emergency, call 000.
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