Australia Comment: To this day I deal with the trauma of having my children taken from me

17:41  06 july  2018
17:41  06 july  2018 Source:

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“But they kept me there and said they would deal with it. They kept me there until 10pm, and then took me to a detention centre. It was another three days before he was able to communicate with his children . “The day I did speak to them we were all crying on the This comment has been deleted.

She changed her name and her job, and, unable to deal with the trauma she suffered, became depressed and was put on sedatives and regular therapy sessions. I still take sedatives, although if I 'm tripping I have to leave a three day window where I have to not take them.

Olga Edwards was estranged from her husband John Edwards© LinkedIn Olga Edwards was estranged from her husband John Edwards

My heart broke after reading the news in which two teenagers were ripped from life by their father.

The children's mother arrived home to discover her own worst nightmare. I know firsthand it's a loss that brings an excruciating emptiness that can’t be filled.

On August 22, 1994, while I was sleeping with my two small children – Kyle, 6, and Latisha, 4, my estranged husband, shot our two kids dead before turning the gun on himself.

Ann O'Neill advocates for change as a result of her own family tragedy.© Alex Ellinghausen Ann O'Neill advocates for change as a result of her own family tragedy.

Still to this day, I deal with trauma from that horrific night. Although my own personal nightmare will always be with me, I am determined to make sure that my children didn’t die in vain.

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2. What are the signs of Trauma ? 3. How to Deal with Trauma . Your child may have tantrums and do things to get attention from you and others. Don’t take their anger or other problems personally – they are part of the normal response to trauma .

It is hard to describe the trauma of sitting in a room with Social Services, a school welfare officer, a It’s not in my nature to take days off or seek help, but I had to. I think I would have collapsed from the tension. She needed me . So I had to deal with it all – the sea of guilt, anger, shame, everything.

It has now emerged that the father’s decision to murder his two children was "premeditated and planned".

The rear of Edwards house in Normanhurst.© Wolter Peeters The rear of Edwards house in Normanhurst.

The research into familicide suggests that this is overwhelmingly the case with these offenses: they are planned and premeditated.

It is hard to fathom how a father – a man who is supposed to love, care for and protect his children, could carry out such a dreadful crime.

Often to help us make sense of these incidents, the media and public conversation around such tragedies perpetuate a variety of misunderstandings about the origins of family violence.

The man who "snaps" or turns violent out of the blue or the "good bloke" narrative are just some examples of how we search for excuses or justifications for bad men, who commit devastatingly bad crimes.

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The trauma of being a bereaved child amid this "conspiracy of silence" as she puts it " I was taken away from all the things that go on around death and dying. Nobody said anything. She set up the charity Grief Encounter, to offer counselling and support to children who have lost a parent or sibling.

It's now April, seven months into the school year, and only two teachers have taken me up on the offer to speak. “He was comfortable and engaging with the students and in the students’ reflections the following day he was someone that the students clearly enjoyed talking with.

Through my own experience, my 20 years of social work practice and my ambassadorship with Our Watch, I know that family violence and violence against women doesn’t occur in a vacuum.

The scene of the shooting in Normanhurst, and John Edwards, inset.© Janie Barrett/LinkedIn The scene of the shooting in Normanhurst, and John Edwards, inset.

In fact, in most cases of family violence like mine and the most recent event, murder is often the last brutal act in a long history of violence and its prevalence in Australia is shocking.

Disturbingly, one in four Australian women will experience intimate partner violence, one in three has experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and one in four has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.

Of those women who experience violence, more than half have children in their care.

And family violence and violence against women doesn’t discriminate.

It happens in our leafy affluent suburbs, by our seemingly approachable neighbour down the road, and contrary to popular belief, it happens without the use of alcohol or elicit substances.

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View comments . Aged just ten, I certainly had no idea that my elegant, glamorous mother was an alcoholic. But to this day I still feel a tightening I can well understand the feelings of those children ; my mother's drinking was the backdrop to my childhood , too. And as for the trauma lasting for years?

According to a report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, more than 2.7 million children had a parent in jail or prison in 2009. Trauma -focused CBT, which can take weeks or months with a trained therapist before showing real benefits " I do plan on being on the other side of the table one day ," Adams said.

While I should acknowledge the media’s responsible reporting of the most recent family violence incident, the same cannot be said of some of the coverage that followed the Margaret River tragedy.

How family violence and violence against women is reported influences how we make sense of the issue and overly-simplistic pieces often misrepresent the nature, scope and seriousness of the issue.

We need to start talking about how we can stop these often-hidden atrocities from ever happening and the address the drivers which underpin them.

Stopping family violence and violence against women before it starts, begins by addressing gender inequality.

It starts with making the links between our sexist attitudes, behaviours and culture in Australia, and our national problem with disrespect towards women and violence against them.

We need to continue to challenge the problematic attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that pervade our society around family violence and encourage governments, businesses, schools and individuals to be better.

It is up to everyone to make this important shift so we don’t exist in an unequal environment where some men feel entitled to abuse, torment and murder women and their children.

Advocating for change is the job I never wanted, but given the injustice I’ve witnessed throughout my own life, I have made my life’s work.

While we may never be able to bring these two teenagers back, we can work to disrupt the deeply entrenched attitudes and behaviour that drive family violence.

Dr Ann O’Neill is the founder and chair of victim support organisation, angelhands and an ambassador for Our Watch.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.

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