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The Why

Warning this blog has information that may cause distress to some readers.

In just a few days I will take to the stage at Brisbane City Hall with my amazing power women team, Fleur Madden, Francesca Webster and Angela Johnson and a group of other giving, kindhearted CEOs. Together we will dance to raise funds for Women's Legal Service Queensland, in the 10th Annual Dancing CEOs.

I was reminded this week in a very sobering way of WHY... why we say yes to events such as this, giving up personal and work time, potentially neglecting other areas of our lives all in the hope that together we can make a small difference.

I have an incredible team who work for me in my business Taste Whitsundays, and I am so grateful for all that they do to support me. Their support and hard work allows me to spend time working on My Giving Table and on giving more of my time and creative business development to charities such as Women's Legal Service Queensland.

One of my team members (we shall call her for privacy's sake Peta) thanked me and said she was proud to be supporting me in my business while I am raising such valuable funds in support of unknown countless women. Peta proceeded to tell me of her lived experience, when she was in her 20's and was in a relationship with a man who took her far from her home to start a new life in regional Tasmania. Geographically isolated her partner became more and more controlling and physically violent. He would regularly hit her "where no one could see". When he went out, he would lock the doors from the outside with bolts so that she could not leave. He would say that once they had children that he would own them, as he owns her and that she would never be allowed to leave with them, unless it was in the ground.

People always ask in these situations "why did she not leave?". Well let's look at that.

You are isolated, you are undermined and lacking all confidence, you have no money of your own, you are physically watched and so controlled that to leave is the most dangerous thing you can do. Peta remembers the other women in the community she knew were going through similar ordeals but who would look sideways at each other, unable to support each other for fear of making it worse. Peta reached out to friends who she thought had husbands who may step in to help, but they were all too afraid to get involved in someone else's domestic situation.

Finally, Peta did manage to run when he was passed out one afternoon. He woke and chased Peta up the street with a shot gun and she only narrowly escaped when two strangers picked her up and drove her out of the district. With only the clothes on her back these kind people gave her enough money to flee Tasmania. She had to start again with nothing and even had to lose all contact with friends and family when it became evident that he was trying to find her and was stalking friends, to discover where she may be. If Peta had not managed to escape, she would certainly not be here to tell the story almost 40 years later. She would likely have become another harrowing statistic. Peta said to me that often we just think of this problem as the odd hit and we miss all the other layers of control and the "you made me do it" comments that destroy the victim's personal identity, confidence, worth and value.

It's a long, long way back once you have been assaulted for years in that way. And of course, as I write this I am in tears for all the women who have known this level of control and violence and in admiration for all who have survived and managed to rebuild their everything - their lives, their hope, their self-worth, their self-respect and their trust to be able to find new beginnings, because all that is lost to them when they are in survival mode.

Those of us lucky enough to never have experienced the dehumanising effect of loss of liberty, self-respect and freedom cannot fathom what it takes to survive.

What I do know is that today there are more women experiencing this than ever and they are people we all could see daily and not know what they are going through.

This is enough of a why for me to consider anything I can do to help a woman find a way out of a circumstance like this, I will do. The money we are currently raising, that we hope will hit the $1 million target and beyond, is being used to fund assistance in gaining back financial control for women who have experienced this first hand, it will go towards navigating women through the steps to find freedom and a future.

If you would like to help please donate to our fundraising link here

You could also purchase a luxury Whitsunday getaway raffle ticket here

Or a Xennox Diamond White Gold Diamond Tennis Bracelet raffle ticket here

Peta and my team have purchased tickets and have said that if they win they will be gifting the prize to women who have recently gone through a domestic violence situation so that they may be spoilt for a day, I hope they win.

Together we can and will make a difference.

And if this has caused you distress and you would like help please reach out to Women's Legal Service Queensland.

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