At 61, Judy Sharp from Brisbane has a life-changing story she is ready to share to inspire others. Her then husband, Mick*, never failed to give her flowers every Friday, 52 weeks a year. Although it may seem like a gesture of love, for Judy it was a frightening reminder of her controlled and unhappy life.
“Not every act of giving is an act of love; some are methods of control,” Judy says.
Things got even worse after their two sons were born. Mick became so paranoid that Judy was being unfaithful, he was taping up the front and back doors to check if they had been tampered with. But what stung her the most was being accused of being a bad mother.
One fateful night, Mick took a photo of Judy and their sons, telling them it would be the last night she would be alive so the boys would have a memory of her. Judy’s screams interrupted his threatening actions. The next morning, taking advantage of his absence, she fled with her sons.
In the whirlwind of emotions and thoughts, Judy had to find accommodation. Her son Tim has severe autism, making shelters an unviable option. She withdrew money for a deposit and a week’s rent, then they left.
“As soon as I walked into this new house, it felt like a mountain had been lifted off my shoulders,” Judy remembers.
Years passed and the pain inflicted by Mick remained a dark chapter in their lives. Judy took it upon herself to make sure her sons would not inherit their father’s traits.
“Being kind is the most important quality you can have,” she told them.
Both of his sons have flourished: Sam, 30, almost made it to the Olympics as a swimming coach, while Tim, 32, became a successful entertainer.
Judy is keen to share her story, particularly on the anniversary of their escape, as a beacon of hope to others in similar situations. A few years ago, she found and shared the haunting photo Mick took, as a powerful reminder that domestic violence is never acceptable.
“No child should have to grow up in an environment that is anything less than nurturing and loving,” stresses Judy.
She wants those who are still trapped in abusive relationships to know that they are not alone and that life can actually be better.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel. You’re not alone; we succeeded, and so can you,” reassures Judy.
*Mick’s name has been changed for privacy reasons.