Welcome to my first ever blog article. I have been giving some thought about starting a blog and here I am, finally getting down to writing this.

If you are following me on social media, you might have seen snippets of my journey through recovery from a domestic violence incident and learned about the events I speak at to raise awareness on this social issue.

However, I realise that it is not enough. Not everyone can be at the events I speak at and there are still so many more people out there that haven’t heard my story and are unaware of the red flags for domestic violence in a relationship. I need to do more.

This is why I have decided to put my thoughts into writing and share them online, hoping that I can reach out to more people and get them to become more aware of the issues surrounding domestic violence. I want to let victims know not to be afraid and that it is ok to stand up and speak out about what they are going through and there are people out there who can help you.

I still remember the first time I spoke up – it was in Sydney at a HR management conference organised by a company called ATC. I was so nervous and was wondering all the time why I was invited to speak at this conference. What is it that I could say that will benefit the people who are attending this conference when I know nothing about HR?

So I got to the venue and I was told that I was next up on the speakers schedule. So I sat there and I listened to the speaker onstage and she was so good. I remember thinking to myself, “Aw Simone, just run. I got a really bad feeling and why was I there? I don’t belong to this crowd. This is gonna be embarrassing.”

However before I could do anything, it was my turn to speak. There was nowhere to run anymore. So I said to myself, “Stuff it. Just get up there Simone. Do it and then you can run. They won’t be able to find you anyway because they don’t know you.”

What an amazing response I received. I still can’t believe that I received a standing ovation after my speech. I never thought that my story would have such a big impact on the audience and people were coming up to me once I was back in my seat to talk to me. I couldn’t believe that a domestic violence story would create such an impact on a HR management group.

From this experience, I thought, “Wow maybe I can make a change to anyone experiencing domestic violence in our nation when I speak.” So moving forwards that was what I did, I went around the country to speak to schools, communities and workplaces. I share my story with them, hoping that they learn something from it, and it is also quite a healing process for me with my self-confidence and self-esteem.

There is still so much to do. Did you know we already have 36 women and 12 children who died from domestic violence this year, alone, and we are only into August. We need to bring the number down to zero and we need to encourage each other to stand up and speak out more.

A highlight for me recently was when a young aboriginal girl, 16 years of age, decided to take action after hearing me speak. She had actually gone to services now and pulled herself out of her family home because of domestic violence from her dad towards her mum and she didn’t want to live her life in a toxic home, knowing it was not the right way to live. She is currently living in foster care and safe from him. Knowing that this young 16-year-old was inspired by what I’ve said makes me feel that all that I’m doing is worth it.

So let’s all keep speaking up and help make a change to our nation. It’s not embarrassing, just look at me, I look different after all the surgeries, but I just want to get out there and help protect each and every one of us, I want to make sure that nobody has to go through what I did.

There are three little points I say to myself each day: stay positive, never give up, and keep smiling. I encourage you to say the same and together we can make a difference.