As bright fireworks erupted across the sky, I turned to my boyfriend. ‘Happy New Year,’ I whispered, before leaning in for a kiss.
After moving from Melbourne to Sydney a few months earlier, I’d landed a job as a waitress, got my own apartment and met a great group of friends. It was through them I’d met John*.
Caring and sweet, he would take me out to dinner and the movies. And he was always full of compliments, no matter how I looked.
Over the next few weeks, we spoke about our future.
His family also lived back in Melbourne and he wanted me to meet them. ‘I’d love to,’ I smiled.
The following week, his parents welcomed me into their home. ‘It’s so nice to meet you,’ his mum said.
That night, as we sat at the table, I felt like I belonged.
But the very next day, John snatched my phone out of my hands and took out the SIM card. ‘You won’t need this anymore,’ he said.
For the rest of the day, he refused to let me leave. Without a car, I had nowhere to go.
Later, when John went to bed, his mum cornered me in the kitchen. ‘Go and put on make-up,’ she instructed. ‘You need to please your man.’
Horrified, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Still, I felt I had no choice. I returned to his room where I obeyed her orders.
Over the next five months, I was trapped.
I’d had a falling-out with my family before moving to Sydney, so I knew they wouldn’t be looking for me.
What had started as a summer romance had turned into a living nightmare.
I tried to run away, but each time John found me and dragged me back.
When I discovered I was pregnant, I was devastated.
I’ve got to find a way to escape, I panicked.
Pleased by the news, John wrapped his arms around me. Then he called my parents to tell them.
Arranging for our families to meet the next day, I realised it was my only way out.
As soon as we arrived, I ran to my dad, Enoka, 39. ‘I need help,’ I sobbed.
Sensing my desperation, he put me in the car and took me straight home.
It’s finally over, I cried.
But over the next two months, John began following me.
Everywhere I went, John was lurking behind me.
I took out an apprehended violence order (AVO).
Still, that didn’t seem to stop him from watching my every move.
Then, one morning in March 2016, when I was three months pregnant, he began texting and calling me constantly.
Dad had just left for work and I was home with my mum Karen, 42, and sister Natile, 24.
Scared, I called the police to let them know what was happening and they said they’d call
But just moments later, I saw John’s shadow through the glass panels of my front door.
Then he opened it – I hadn’t realised it was unlocked!
Without a word, he grabbed me by the hair and plunged a knife into my back.
Stabbing me over and over again, I collapsed on the floor.
‘Help me!’ I screamed.
Thankfully, Natile had been in her room and came running to my side.
Grabbing me by the feet, she tried to pull me away.
But she was knocked over when John picked up a nearby chair and threw it at her.
‘Get out!’ she yelled.
That’s when my mum heard her screams and came running inside.
When she saw the bloody scene, she chased John out the front door and called for help.
As hot blood seeped from my back, I realised my stomach had been pierced.
My baby boy!
‘Just keep breathing,’ Natile begged as I struggled to stay conscious.
Rushed to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, I’d suffered nine stab wounds to my back, chest and stomach.
‘You’re lucky to be alive,’ doctors told me.
But with no movement from my baby in over 24 hours, I was desperate to know if he’d survived.
Once it was confirmed my precious boy was okay, I decided to name him Ariel – meaning ‘warrior’.
When he was born six months later, I was besotted. ‘You’re my whole world,’ I told him.
In September, 2016, John appeared in court.
Although he was originally charged with attempted murder, his conviction was downgraded to intentionally causing serious harm.
He was sentenced to just 18 months in prison.
As he does not have Australian citizenship, he was sent to a detention centre to await deportation back to the Middle East.
Now almost three years on from the horrific attack, I still suffer from anxiety, but I’ve learned to live with my scars.
Ariel is now a happy and polite little boy who tells me he loves me every single day.
I’ve since met a new man, Foaad, 21, who is incredibly supportive and treats Ariel like his own son.
With him by my side, I’m determined to give my son the best life possible
If you are experiencing abuse and need help, contact:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277
- 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732