Jess shares her experiences as a survivor of violence.
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[Title on screen reads, ‘Jess’s Story’]
[Text on screen reads, ‘Content Warning: Includes discussion of childhood sexual violence’]
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My name's Jess, I'm from Canberra. I am a woman with disability. I am a mum, a partner, and um... (Sighs) ..a dog mum, as well. And I have worked in a lot of different roles and I've studied a lot of different things and I care a lot about children and animals.
I have two other siblings and we grew up in a really dysfunctional household. Our parents weren't really skilled or equipped to protect us and my sister and I were subject to abuse from people or by people that we should've trusted when we were little. That sort of set off a...a domino effect in other areas of my life.
I was teased really badly at high school for a couple of years, physically and verbally. I was sexually assaulted again, quite badly, when I was 19. And then also again when I was 25, and that was particularly violent. It all sort of led to a web of complex trauma. I only started dealing with things properly a couple of years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child.
The first time that I sought help for the sexual assaults, I didn't really get the response or the support that I needed. Not everyone's going to respond in the way that you need and is able to help you. For anyone else that's experienced it, I really encourage you to keep trying until you get the support that you need. I suppose it doesn't matter what disability you might have, you need to find accessible resources. And when I say that, I mean you need to find something not only that suits what your access requirements are, so, whatever medium you might need to receive information and convey information, but also, it needs to be tailored to the stage in your, as cliched as it sounds, your recovery journey. Because it's going to be a journey, if you've experienced violence, no matter what sort of violence you've experienced.
I get confidence from positive feedback from other people that I trust and I respect, so... I didn't have the confidence, or I don't think I was prepared, either, because I was in... Up until, you know, my early 30s, I was in a constant fight or flight...situation. Just from compounded trauma over so many years. I was just stressed all the time. I didn't study what I wanted to do at uni when I was 18. I didn't feel like I had the confidence then, I was too stressed, and I don't think I would've done so well.
So, I've gone back and studied law as an adult and done really well at that and had these amazing...teachers, and I've gained so much inspiration from them and confidence to pursue that as a career. And I know that sounds a bit corny, but I just think you're always learning from other people, and it doesn't... They can be younger than you, they can be the same age as you, 'cause everyone has such a diversity of life experience. It's been a bit of a journey to get to the stage where I...don't have feelings of shame and being sad and being angry for what's happened and able to think of myself as someone that I might wanna help and do those things for myself that I've done for other people.
The turning point for me has been having my daughter and...getting quite anxious about how I'm going to protect her and keep her safe from the world and realising that I have to be the best version of myself to do that for her, for the rest of her life, or as long as I can. So, that's what really forced me to ask for help, and with the support of a fantastic partner, have been able to start that journey with a therapist, because it doesn't always run smoothly, even when you've got the experts helping you.
[Text on screen reads, “If you or someone you know is impacted by violence call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au. In a emergency call 000’]
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[National sexual assault, domestic family violence counselling service]
[Text on screen reads, ‘Watch more stories at Our Site oursite.wwda.org.au’]
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