Domestic violence experts say more middle-aged, older women are fleeing relationships

© Provided by ABC NEWS
Angie Jordan survived 40 years of domestic violence at the hands of her husband. (Supplied: Angie Jordan)

Angie Jordan is a survivor in every sense of the word.

The 60-year-old was subjected to 40 years of controlling, abusive and manipulative behaviour at the hands of a man who described her as “the love of his life”.

“I was always being questioned about whether I had been out having sex with other men because I may be three minutes late home from the supermarket,” Ms Jordan said.

“It’s a total degrading and humiliation of you all the time.”

Experts describe coercive control as a pattern of behaviour that can include physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse.

Ms Jordan, who lived on the Sunshine Coast when the abuse occurred, said her appearance and clothes were constantly monitored, and she was even weighed regularly.

“The scales would come out, and if I had put on a weight, he would always say things to me like, ‘Just remember, I can replace you just like that,’ and click his fingers in front of my nose,” she said.

Ms Jordan said she tried to leave the relationship several times unsuccessfully.

But it wasn’t until her husband’s death in 2019 by suicide, when she was finally free of the abuse, that she realised how close she came to losing her life. 

While going through paperwork belonging to her husband, Ms Jordan found a eulogy he had written for her, along with life insurance documents.

“When you’ve read your own eulogy, there are no words to really describe how you feel,” she said.

“My abuser, who would tell everybody how I was the love of his life, and he couldn’t live without me, had sat down and written my eulogy and planned to murder me.

“It’s as simple as that.”

Speaking out to save others

Ms Jordan is sharing her story as part of Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month, which runs throughout May. 

She said it was an important message given the recent alleged murder of Gold Coast mother Kelly Wilkinson.

A year on from the horrific death of Brisbane’s Hannah Clarke and her three children by Rowan Baxter in Queensland, there is a push for a national definition of coercive control.

New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria are all looking at the best ways to criminalise coercive control.

“We can’t just keep having women murdered — women who have done everything right to try to get away,” Ms Jordan said.

“I think that this coercive behaviour needs to be criminalised, and I think one of the things we need is GPS trackers on offenders.

“The minute they start breaching orders, the court systems have got to deal with them harshly.”

Ms Jordan was put in touch with charity Beyond DV, who she credits with helping her recovery.

Founder Carolyn Robinson said Ms Jordan’s story was one of the most harrowing she had encountered.

“I’ll never forget the day that she actually came to our centre for the first time,” Mrs Robinson said.

“We started talking, and the behaviour that she had been exposed to is like nothing I had heard before — and I’ve heard a lot.

“Just listening to her, I could sense that strength that she had in her and that sense now that she has freedom — at last — to be able to live the rest of the years of her life as she wishes.”

Middle-aged women leaving long-term relationships

Mrs Robinson says Beyond DV, which operates as a one-stop-shop for victims of domestic violence, is seeing more middle-aged women reaching out for help to leave long-term relationships. 

“In the last six months or so, we’re getting a lot more women who are in that middle-age group, 40s to 60s, who are coming to our centre,” she said.

“I don’t know if it’s because of the awareness that’s really starting to gain momentum, that women who have been in long-term relationships are starting to see that, ‘Oh, this isn’t right.'”

Mrs Robinson said Beyond DV would be hosting a forum, a panel event with DV experts and survivors, as well as fundraising initiatives during a four-week awareness campaign.

But the message is simple — reach out for help.

“For any women who are going through domestic violence, who are finding themselves in an abusive relationship, who are starting to recognise those red flags,” she said.

“Reach out for help, there is certainly help available there for you.

“There can be a more fulfilling life for you. You don’t have to live in fear. You don’t have to live under control.”

Mrs Robinson said it was equally as important for family, friends and colleagues to recognise the signs of domestic violence and coercive control.

“If you know of a loved one, a colleague, a friend who you feel is in an abusive relationship, let them know that you’re there,” she said.

Ms Jordan said she hoped her story would save other women from a lifetime of suffering — or worse.

“If telling my story saves one woman, one day, one week, one year in this type of coercive domestic violence relationship, then it’s the only way I can deal with my 40 years to say, ‘Well, I had to go through what I did, to be able to do what I’m doing now,'” she said.

Source: Thanks