Tuesday Talks: Domestic Violence with Satu Myers
Its our National shame that women and children are suffering such high levels of domestic violence. This year in Australia March 2015, 25 women have died at the hand of men in domestic situations.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the levels of violence experienced by the world’s women as ‘a global public health problem of epidemic proportions, requiring urgent action’.
- In Australia, domestic, family and sexual violence is found across all cultures, ages and socio-economic groups, but the majority of those who experience these forms of violence are women. However, it is not possible to measure the true extent of the problem as most incidents of domestic, family and sexual violence go unreported.
The United Nations defines violence against women as:
‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life’.
We must also remember that men and boys suffer from domestic violence. The Australian Bureau of Statistics 4906.0 – Personal Safety, Australia, 2012 (2013) is the largest and most recent survey of violence in Australia. It found that:
- one in three victims of current partner violence during the last 12 months (33.3%) and since the age of 15 (33.5%) were male.
Domestic violence may include physical, sexual, financial, emotional or psychological abuse. Emotional or psychological abuse may include a range of controlling behaviours such as the use of verbal threats, enforced isolation from family and friends, restrictions on finances and public or private humiliation.
**Please understand right at the beginning of this story: Domestic Violence and Abuse is not acceptable in any relationship, it is not a Christian principle, nor does the bible support abuse in any circumstances.
I’m talking today with Satu Meyer about her experience of domestic violence within her marriage. Satu is a Finnish mother of 5 amazing and resilient children and gorgeous step son. Born in Finland and raised by her grandparent in a small village of 100 people in the far north of Finland under the northern lights. Satu has travelled the world, speaks 4 languages and is currently studying a degree in European Political Science. Satu was 22 when she came to Australia and met her husband pretty much straight away. Married in a pentecostal church at the age of 23. The domestic violence started about six weeks into the marriage. A six week cycle of abuse that went on for six years.
Satu thank you for joining me on Sunday Everyday to speak about your story. I know that you have worked hard to get to place of being able to speak out about this and to create a platform of open discussion. Through many years of counselling and therapy you are finding your voice.
‘One of the most powerful takeaway from the 12 step programme is that you learn to tell your story. You have a venue to begin to articulate what has been silenced. You are being heard and learning to put into words what has happened to you. This is my story, its the worst story, because its my story and I had to live through it’. Satu
Lisa: There are so many questions that I have for you. We have so much to learn about this issue. Before we start – what is the one thing that you would say to women who may be in a situation of domestic violence and who could be reading this today.
‘Your story is the worst story because you are living through it and your story needs to be heard and believed’.
Lisa: Lets talk about the cycle of abuse.
Satu: If you are in it you don’t understand the abuse cycle because it is so exhausting.
- There is the ‘honey moon phase’, everything is smooth, they are very charming.
- Then starts the verbal picking and the verbal, social or financial control – in this season you are walking on eggshells. You do everything you can not to upset him.
- Then one day you say something or do some minor thing wrong and then they shift into the ‘violent phase’
- In the apologetic stage they excuse what they have done. They become highly apologetic or they blame you. You made me do it. You are not allowed to talk to anyone about it.
- Then back into normal calm down, then into the honey moon phase.
Lisa: Can you explain to me a bit more about the honey moon phase?
Satu: Well, you are treated nicer. Its a relief because your not getting raped or beaten. The undercurrent and the threat has stopped.
Lisa: Lets talk about the types of abuse.
Satu: A lot of women say ‘he only beat me once’. But that is how they control you because you shut up and do whatever it takes to maintain the peace. There’s no freedom. Your money and social life is controlled, you are especially controlled through the children. You are particularly vulnerable when you are pregnant or have small children. You are absolutely reliant on the other person. What types of abuse did I suffer? Physical, sexual, emotional, drugging, psychological abuse through the children, spiritual abuse and being tormented.
Lisa: What of these abuses was the worst for you personally?
Satu: Two things. Abuse through my children for example my son was drugged and kidnapped when he was three. The second for me was the sexual abuse it is the most dehumanising. In regard to spiritual abuse, he would justify the abuse by using the bible, using terms like submission and he would repeat christian words that I would hear in the church. During all of this time we were both attending church. The church condoned his behaviour and what was going on. I told the church leaders and pastor what was going on but they would completely deny the reality by saying that ‘I was exaggerating and making it up’. My staying in the marriage was more important to them than any abuse that happened to me. They would tell me to pray for my husband and thank God for him.
Once he severally beat me. It was a very serious assault. I was been beaten black and blue on my face and my whole body. After then he was more careful to not bruise me in visible places.
Lisa: One of the most common questions people ask is ‘Why don’t you leave? ( We will be covering this question in next weeks post called The Shark Cage – This metaphor- explains some of the reasons why it is so hard for women to get out of abusive relationships).
Satu: They don’t understand, it is impossible to understand.
Within the first year of marriage I had to leave home and go into a refuge just after my first child was born I told my church friends what was happening. I didn’t have a lot of close friends because I hadn’t been in the country for very long. I went to the GP with a displaced jaw, but my husband was with me and I couldn’t say anything. I told my pastor that ‘I don’t know if I should press charges or not’. He advised me that I must stay with my husband and pray for him because he was weaker mentally than I was.
I now know that you cannot leave until you are absolutely safe. You have to be very strategic. You have to plan it. You have to be very wise. In the past when I tried to leave, he would stalk me. He would find me through friends who were ignorant of the dynamics involved and they would give him my phone number. Then when he found me the abuse would escalate, he would be in a rage. The abuse was always the worst after he found me. He refused to allow me to walk away.
Eventually I found a safe christian community who helped me to leave.
God is amazing and eventually I did find prayer and healing. It is a continually journey and I have discovered an enduring strength and faith in God. I have also found safe women willing to listen and believe my story.
It has also been a lot of hard work and disciplined application to meditation and other methods of therapy to support my healing journey.
Although initially I experience some unsafe advice, I believe that today, society as a whole, including Christians are more understanding and supportive of people in abusive situations. Its becoming more talked about, more understood and less tolerated.
Abuse is not acceptable in any relationship, it is not a Christian principle, nor does the bible support abuse in any circumstances.
Darling Satu, thank you for sharing some of your story with us. I know that there are many other women in similar situations. My prayer is that your story will help people understand what its really like and help others to realise that you can get free and that it is possible to move on.
Satu, you are a walking miracle of grace, hope and love.
Help is available and your story needs to be heard.
Trouble at home, call WIRE womens’ support line 1300 134 130 which is a free and confidential Victoria wide service.
You can call 1800737732 RESPECT which is the National Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Line open 24/7.
To contact CASA and the after hours sexual assault Crisis Line simple call 1800 806 292
CASA provides counselling and advocacy services to women, men, children and young people who are victim/survivors of recent or past sexual assault. The service is also available to non-offending family members, partners and friends.
World Health Organization (WHO), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and South African Medical Research Council, Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence and Executive summary,
WHO, Geneva, 2013, accessed 29 April 2014. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Personal safety survey Australia 2012, cat. no. 4906.0, ABS, Canberra, 2013, accessed 29 April 2014
United Nations (UN), Declaration on the elimination of violence against women, UN website, 20 December 1993, accessed 7 July 2014.