Marissa Botes is helping women who have suffered from domestic violence.
Marissa Botes is helping women who have suffered from domestic violence. Carly Morrissey

Murder, family violence and suicide: Survivor tells story

HAVING lived a lifetime of domestic and family violence Marissa Botes said she's no longer embarrassed to tell her story.

Ms Botes described her experience as "going through hell".

"I'm not embarrassed about what I've been through," Ms Botes said.

"People need to speak out so people can reach out."

For 11 years Ms Botes suffered domestic violence from a controlling spouse who this year took his own life after the couple separated.

"I've been through a lot, murder, suicide, trauma, domestic violence.

"I'm on this side, through my experiences in life, I believe I can help others."

She has now co-founded a company called Woman Empowering Woman with her best friend and is creating a website which bring together all the support available for people going through domestic and family violence.

"I had no idea what help is out there.

"It brings all the information together in one place."

The site will support Bravehearts and Lifeline.

Ms Botes said her partner had mental health issues and for 11 years she thought his controlling behaviour was normal.

"You don't know when you're in it.

"I got out, but he had issues."

He wouldn't let her phone family or friends and would often explode at the smallest of things.

Once she finally left their Springfield home with her eight year old daughter they had to go into hiding.

"It was the hardest thing."

But Ms Botes knew she had to do it for her daughter.

The turning point came earlier this year after an incident that scared her and she later discovered he had withdrawn all their money.

"He planned it. He went after my business."

To this day she doesn't know where the money went.

That's when she decided to leave the family home.

"I didn't have food, I didn't have anything."

But she had a friend who took her in and with the support of DVAC she received hampers of food, cosmetics and even toys for her daughter.

"She stood by me through everything. She held things together."

Ms Botes said the biggest change she noticed was in her daughter.

"She's doing well, she's strong, like a different child."

She hopes to support Lifeline and Braveharts with Woman Empowering Woman and help to break the cycle of violence.

While her partner didn't get physically violent he often scared her.

"It was anxious for 11 years. I didn't push back.

"I remember being scared and him standing over me yelling."

Ms Botes said due to family trauma after her grandfather shot and killed her father and nearly killed her she has always shied away from conflict and her ex-partner used that against her.

"If I can save one more person's life, it's worth it."

"I know how it feels and I want to make it better for other people."

Woman Empowering Woman launched this year and operates as a business to promote the importance of seeking help, and aims to support charities who work to help women and children as well as combat domestic violence and sexual abuse, mental health issues, suicide, the protection of human rights and children.

'It's ok not to be ok'

DOMESTIC and sexual abuse survivor Marissa Botes wants people to know "it's ok not to be ok".

"I've been through sexual assault, domestic violence,suicide, depression, anxiety and trauma," she said during a speech at charity fundraiser recently.

"It has driven me to the point where I was so emotionally weak and drained that I lost all ability to function normally.

"I forgot how to do the basic things, such as making a sandwich for my little girl for school."

"I know how it feels to be scared, to suffer silently through anxiety to the point where your body gives in.

"I know especially how hard it is to reach out.

"No matter how much has been stripped away from you, don't take your own life away.

"It's not about how hard you've fallen, its about how you get up and persevere.

"In a moment of pain and suffering when taking your own life is the only option, you might be ridding yourself of those demons, but you are leaving those demons and many scars behind for your loved ones.

"This cause and this drive and this passion I have inside me to help others is purely from my own experiences.

"What I'm sharing is for everyone who has ever felt pain, suffering, anger and hate from someone else's demons.

"But this is also for you, the one who caused so much suffering where ever you are.

"The suffering of getting called into a tiny room where officers give you the news and your body goes weak to the point you have strength left to fully comprehend the news that was given to you.

"The suffering of your promise you have made to always be there to help raise out daughter, to love and protect her.

"The most difficult thing in the world to do is to tell your child what daddy or mummy has done.

"You can't just tell them the truth.

"You pray you will never have to tell them.

"Telling my eight year old girl was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

"If it wasn't for the help of the school, psychologist or Rebecca I would never have been able to be strong enough.

"For a week I had to hide the passing of my daughters father."

Ms Botes said she had been given advice on how and when to break the news to her daughter.

Shaking she told her daughter that "daddy was sick".

"It was an invisible sickness on the inside and no body knew about it. He didn't know about it either and his body just gave up.

"Before this I was never aware of how serious mental health was.

"I pushed my emotions back and store them in boxes deep inside my feeling as though I would never be able to forgive him for what he's done to my daughter and myself.

"Now that I'm aware of how serious mental health issues are, I understand how his childhood filled with abuse and other traumatic events shaped him.

"I will never be able to truly voice all the personal disturbing things that have actually happened to me."

She said she will have to battle them on her own, but she has help and support.

"We will stand together for this great cause and support these amazing charities to combat the heartache that life throws at us, we will not give up, we will stand up and conquer and empower each other to be stronger than before."

  • If you need help contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.