Standing Up to Bullies
G’day, I’m Stephen Page from Page Provan Family and Fertility Lawyers. Thank you for joining me today. I’m talking about standing up to bullies. When I went to high school many, many years ago, I was someone who was, I’d never had a fight, I got picked on, I was bullied a lot, and I really didn’t stand up for myself, and then I learnt that actually I did that wrong because I then doubted myself.
I doubted whether I had strength to do things, and I want to give you an example of a client of mine who stood up to her husband, and this will just illustrate the point that if you’re getting bullied, you need to stand up and you need to have that strength, and you may not think you have that strength, but in fact, you have it.
Because if you have that inner strength, you will survive anything, and this might be seen as impossible to achieve, but I think it’s absolutely essential to think about. On a Tuesday morning, seven years after I’d acted for this client, she phoned me up out of the blue, and that was a surprise to say the least, and I took the call and she said, I want to thank you for what you did for me.
I took a pause and I said, look, the way I look at it, I did absolutely everything I could for you, but it wasn’t a great outcome. She was an Aboriginal woman and her husband was Aboriginal as well, and he had been particularly violent to her. Really a lot of physical violence as well as sexual violence towards her, really awful stuff and on the day that they separated, which was in suburban Brisbane, he had enlisted the help of their teenage sons, and between the three of them had thrown her over the bonnet of their car and somehow, and I don’t know how she did this, she ended up at the local GP’s clinic, and her face was covered in blood.
Pretty awful, Pretty awful, just a nightmare, and they patched her up and they contacted the police and the police then took her to a refuge. But the police failed her because what she sought from the police was that they apply for a protection order on her behalf, and under the law, they were obliged to do that.
Did they do that? No. She also sought that her husband be charged with her assault. Did they do that? No. I then acted for her after she had ended up in a women’s refuge and obtained a protection order for her. We got a temporary order, but we got the final order just by luck, as it turns out, because he was opposed to it, we had a trial date and he turned up late for court.
So we didn’t have to get her in the witness box and be cross examined by him, which would have been pretty degrading. Instead, he turned up late, we got a default order and then when he finally turned up, of course, the magistrate said, well, I’ve already made the order, it’s too late, you left it too late.
We eventually got the police to charge her, I made a complaint to police. I said, I didn’t want the police officer disciplined, I wanted him counselled, I wanted to make sure that he looked at life in a new way, that he discovered that he had to actually protect this woman and this man was then prosecuted, the husband was then prosecuted, but he pleaded not guilty.
It went to trial, he’s a very argumentative man, as you can imagine, because he was a bully. He was always right as bullies are always right and trying to talk down to everyone else because they’re smarter than everyone else. He lost, it must be said, he was found guilty. But sadly for me, he didn’t go to jail, he should have gone to jail.
But the saddest part for me was her boys, she wanted to have a relationship with her boys. So she started proceedings in the family court, and a report was obtained from an expert which went along these lines, that these boys were quaking in fear from their father, and that as a result, they refused to have a relationship with their mother and it was unequivocal, there was no doubt at all that’s where they were at and so what did she have to do?
She had to give up, and I said to her on the day that she phoned, look, I did absolutely everything I could for you, I got you safe but it really left a bad taste to my mouth. I can’t see in those circumstances, although I did everything for you, that this was such an achievement that you’re thanking me for.
I don’t understand why you’re thanking me, she said, well, you know when I separated from my husband, I didn’t believe in myself because she’d been bullied for so long, that sense of self identity had been stripped from her. No one believed in me, she said, I didn’t believe in me, no one else believed in me.
But but you did, you were the only person in the whole world who believed in me and you said to me, I believe in you and the justice of your cause and as a result of that, she said, I believed in myself, and you know what? Even though I only got to grade seven with school, I have a full-time job and I’m proud of what I do, and guess what? I’ve married again and my new husband, he’s not violent, he doesn’t drink, he treats me as his beautiful wife, and I was absolutely moved by this and she said, That’s not the best.
The best is my son’s finally plucked up the courage to leave, and they’re living with me. She said, we’ve all got that courage within us because I had that courage and because you helped me find that courage within myself. I moved and I inspired them, and they moved to live with me. Life is grand she said, life is just wonderful and I want to thank you for it.