Pressing my back against the cupboard door to keep it shut, I managed to call Mum on my mobile as Pete pulled the door from the other side. 'Pete hit me!' I cried as Mum picked up. My face was burning and swelling from the blow. Mum quickly calmed me and called the police. Then suddenly the door swung open and Pete dragged me out and on to the floor. 'Please, I'm the mother of your child!' I begged, as he bashed me. But he didn't stop. If I don't get out of here now I'll die, I thought.
Thinking of Goran, I found the strength to fight back. I shoved Pete with all my might. Then I ran for my life. As I made it outside, still wearing my pyjamas and clutching my phone, I could hear Pete shouting from the balcony. A beer bottle smashed beside me. I kept running and fortunately Mum called again. 'The police are on their way,' she said. I sobbed as I waited.
'Would you like us to take you to the hospital?' officers offered, seeing my battered face when they arrived. I needed treatment but I couldn't bear the thought of my co-workers at the hospital seeing me like this. So when my parents arrived, they took me home.
A few days later, Jackie brought Goran to visit. My face was so swollen he didn't recognise me. Frightened, he hid behind my sister. When I looked in the mirror, I could see why. My eyes were black and in the centre of my forehead was a purple bruise etched with the distinctive mark of Pete's wedding ring. What had been a symbol of our love had become a weapon that scarred me.
How could he? I thought. Part of me wanted to hide and pretend it never happened, but Jackie encouraged me to open up. 'You'll feel better if you talk about it,' she soothed. She was right. As a nurse, I'd seen women like me come into the hospital for treatment and knew there was no shame in what had happened to me.
So when I went back to work weeks later I decided to tell the truth. It made me realise I wasn't alone. Meanwhile, Pete (Pece) Stojanovski, now 35, was served with an apprehended domestic violence order and charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm after the attack. In April 2013 he was convicted and received a six month suspended sentence subject to good behaviour.
Two years on, I still have the mark on my forehead made by Pete's wedding ring and I have permanent nerve damage on my head. But I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor. I've tattooed those words on my side as a reminder. By taking up mixed martial arts I've regained my confidence and last year I met my new partner Kane, 36.
I'm sharing my story to inspire others who have experienced domestic violence to speak out. You are so much stronger than you think you are.
To join Australia's campaign to prevent men's violence against women, visit whiteribbon.org.au
Originally published in that's life! Issue 46, 2015, cover date 19 November 2015.
Family violence: THE FACTS
Globally, one in three women experience partner violence and one woman is killed nearly every week in Australia due to family violence. Children are present in one out of every three cases reported to police. Women and children with disabilities sadly face an increased risk, as do women in the indigenous community.
If you or someone you know needs help or advice, contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), a counselling service available 24 hours a day.