top of page

It's never too late to stand up against domestic violence.

"Domestic violence is not a private matter; it is a crime against humanity. We must stand together, raise our voices, and break the silence to end this cycle of abuse."


It starts innocently enough. In most cases it can be critiquing what you wear, listening in on conversations with friends, or controlling how often you see your family. It's the classic frog in boiling water, it's insidious and creeps up on its victims in stocking feet, silent and deadly.

I can't claim to be a victim of domestic violence, but I came close twice. I wish I had known about coercive control back then. One ex-partner would follow me around when I spoke to my friends or family, accusing me of being gay when I spoke to girlfriends for too long or of having an affair when I spoke to my brothers.

The other one would verbally abuse me on a regular base and would be remorseful immediately after, swearing that it would never happen again.

I'm a strong independent woman so how could I have let that happen to me of all people?

One woman is killed by a violent partner each week in Australia - it is without a doubt, a terrifying statistic. It happens to women across all cultures and socioeconomic communities.

I believe that women in midlife, just like women of any age, have a responsibility to stand up against domestic violence for several reasons:

1. Personal safety:

Domestic violence can have severe physical and psychological consequences for the victim. By standing up against it, women in midlife can protect themselves and ensure their own safety.

2. Protecting future generations:

Many women in midlife have children or grandchildren who may be witnessing or experiencing domestic violence. By taking a stand, we can protect the younger generation from the cycle of abuse and create a safer environment for our loved ones.

3. Empowering others:

Women in midlife often have life experience and wisdom that can inspire and empower others. By speaking out against domestic violence, we can encourage other women to find their voice, seek help, and break free from abusive relationships.

4. Raising awareness:

Domestic violence is often a hidden issue, and many people are unaware of its prevalence and impact. By standing up against it, women in midlife can help raise awareness and educate others about the signs, consequences, and resources available to combat domestic violence.

5. Advocacy and support:

Women in midlife can use their influence and resources to advocate for better policies, laws, and support systems for victims of domestic violence. We can join or support organisations that provide assistance to survivors and work towards creating a society that does not tolerate abuse.

6. Breaking societal norms:

In many cultures, there are societal norms and expectations that perpetuate domestic violence or discourage victims from seeking help. By standing up against domestic violence, we can challenge these norms and contribute to a cultural shift towards a more equal and violence-free society.

Overall, women in midlife have a unique position to make a difference in the fight against domestic violence. Our experiences, knowledge, and influence can help create a safer and more supportive environment for all individuals affected by abuse.

Molly's story

In July 2022 my beautiful 22-year-old daughter Molly ended her own life because of Intimate Partner Torture (IPT). Molly was kind and compassionate. She was the sparkle in our family.

Today I want to share with you three things I wish I had known before her death.

1. Anytime a victim of IPT is brave enough to share any part of her story with you, she is minimising the experience. They have been repeatedly told by the perpetrator that they are the cause of the abusive behaviour. Because of this, they feel shame and guilt and have internalised deep feelings of self-blame.

They have also been 'trained' by the perpetrator to use minimising language such as arguing, fighting, disagreement or quarrel. As such, their experience is always much worse than they say.

2. Language matters. As a community we have been consistently exposed to language that trivialises the seriousness of IPT. The term 'domestic' conjures up a sense of 'homeliness' - domestic cats, domestic work, domestic airport.

Violence and abuse may seem like strong terms, but they do not adequately describe the experience. During the Korean war US soldiers who were Prisoners of War (POW) were subjected to a form of abuse (later termed coercive control) which was designed to psychologically break them down (Bidermanschartofcoercion.pdf (

In 1973 coercive control was listed by Amnesty International as a tool of torture. The techniques used by perpetrators of IPT follow the same steps taken to psychologically break down highly trained military soldiers. Notably women who are victims of IPT are at a disadvantage compared with POWs, as the perpetrator of their torture can use the knowledge they have built up over the course of their relationship against them. The torture is not random. It is personalised and targeted against the victim.

3. While around 50-60 women are murdered by their intimate partner (or former intimate partner) each year in Australia, another 400-450 women who are known victims of IPT end their own lives. Women are left helpless and hopeless and are a much bigger threat to themselves than has previously been recognised. (Investigation into family and domestic violence and suicide Volume 1: Executive Summary (

So, what can you do to improve the future for women who are victims of IPT?

  • Firstly, if a woman discloses abuse, believe them, and validate their experience. Understand that whatever they tell you is only the tip of the iceberg. Help them to understand that what they are experiencing is a form of torture, and they are NOT to blame. And yes, even the occasional 'acts of kindness' are part of the torture process.

  • Change the narrative by changing the language you use when you are talking about domestic violence/abuse. Call it what it is, Intimate Partner Torture.

  • Help keep victims safe. Help them work through safe exit plans to keep themselves physically safe, remembering the victim is the person best placed to know what safety looks like to them. Also recognise the need to protect their mind from the emotional/ psychological torture. This may be as simple as saying “I believe you”, “I will always be here for you” or “I will not judge you”. For my daughter, it also included doing breathing exercises to try and get her out of the 'fight, flight, freeze' response. The 'Be There' app is a wonderful resource (Be There App – A domestic violence bystander support app).

Above all, love them unconditionally so they can take the hugely courageous steps needed to gain their freedom, in their own time. Their lives are depending on it.

Julie Adams

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page