In 2007 I was teaching corporate yoga and was living in West Ryde, New South Wales. At the time I was 25 and was basically living two lives. I was a yoga teacher who also drank and smoked—that was my way of dealing with domestic violence at home. I was drinking at night and then getting up the next day and teaching yoga like it was all okay.
The abuse was so gradual, it seemed almost playful at first. My ex-partner would do things like kick me on the backside, but then it got worse. He would bite me—really hard. The abuse wasn’t only physical, for example he would take all of my money and would constantly put me down.
One day we were out and had to run for a bus, and he told me: “Don’t you run like that”. He became so controlling that he was even telling me how to run.
I had met my ex-partner at a house party in 2004, but I had known him for years before because all my friends are connected. My son’s dad had grown up in a youth refuge and this man had also grown up there. He was actually under house arrest at the time I met him, but I was a yoga teacher and always wanted to help people. I thought I could help him.
My life changed forever on October 17, 2007. I had just taught a yoga class and met him for dinner at the local hotel down the road from where I lived. We had a minor argument—it was so small—and suddenly he said, “Let’s go”.
About five metres from the back of the hotel he shot me point blank in the back of the head. He was holding my shirt and marching me, so I didn’t see the gun coming. It just happened.
Soon after as I lay on the ground in that car park, I began to feel pressure on my brain, and thought, “I’ve got to move”. I also thought about my six year old son Dylan, and had to stay awake. I managed to crawl a few metres out of the hotel car park and into a laneway. I tried to commando crawl, but I couldn’t even do that. It sounds so dramatic, but it was. I had to use my forearms to drag my legs and body as they were not moving.
Yoga saved my life that night. I focussed on my breathing to stay calm and went into kind of a meditative state, but I was conscious throughout. I laid on the ground for about two and a half hours before a man found me in the laneway.
When the ambulance came I was able to give them my mum’s name and number and then I blacked out.
I woke up from a ten-day induced coma and spent one month in ICU, and three months in a normal ward. For months I couldn’t even roll over in my bed. I would do yoga sequences in my mind, as if my body was doing it.
But being in hospital was actually a nice feeling, it sounds strange but I felt relieved and I felt safe, which I hadn’t felt in a long time.
My family was amazing while I was in hospital. My mum was there every day, she was incredible. My dad would come most days too and would play guitar, and my oldest brother would come from hours away and even lost his job because he visited me so much.
My son was six-years-old at the time, and because of all the tubes we didn’t want to scare him, so he only came to visit a few months after the incident.
Then I was in rehab for another six months—it was the beginning of my road to recovery.
Ten years on, I’m now still using a walking frame and also can’t handwrite. I’ve lost my vision on my right side so I can’t drive. I’ve also spent a lot of money on massages because I have poor circulation from using the walking frame.
It’s really hard because I’ve spent a lot of my life focussing on the positives but I can’t ignore reality.
Emotionally, I’m still coping with it now, but yoga has helped a lot. I’m still dealing with that feeling that I somehow deserved it. When you’re put down for so long you start to believe it.
I’m now in a very happy relationship and he helps me a lot. He brings me the biggest smile. After my ex-partner and his abuse, this man is a complete contrast—he’s the biggest gentleman on earth. It’s really nice, and it’s quite overwhelming.
My son now lives with my mum while he finishes school. He might have been confused at that young age that everything I went through was normal. But that was not normal or how you treat women, and I feel that now we have a very close bond because of what we’ve been through.
I became involved with White Ribbon because I wanted to use my story to bring awareness to the prevalence of domestic violence in Australia, and to use my knowledge and history to educate and empower both women and men.
This year’s White Ribbon Day is about men standing up and speaking out against violence against women. White Ribbon has a useful STOP kit to help men safely intervene.
As part of the healing process, I’m planning to become a motivational speaker and am also writing a book to help other victims of domestic and family violence.
I’ve kept quiet for ten years, but now I’m ready to share my story.
Rosanna is available to speak at events—please contact Inke Loos at email@example.com for more information.
Rosanna's ex-partner is eligible for parole in March 2019.
On average, one woman is killed every week in Australia by domestic violence. White Ribbon Day, held this year on 25 November, is calling on all men to take a stand against disrespectful behaviour and all acts of violence against women.
The theme this year is STOP—calling for men to safely intervene when they witness disrespect, abuse or violence against women.
STOP stands for:
- See (Know the signs and pay attention because your actions are important in helping to stop violence against women)
- Talk (Words are part of disrespectful and abusive behaviour but words can also help stop abuse and prevent violence against women – speak up if you witness abusive behaviour)
- Offer support (Intervening doesn’t mean putting yourself in danger - call the police, offer a ride home, offer to safely intervene)
- Prevent (Think about what you can do every day to promote respect towards women, educate yourself and learn the signs of disrespect and abusive behaviour and don’t be afraid to talk about it with friends)