Rape survivor's battle to prove her worth

·3-min read

Every day a Victorian woman strives to find the good, to smile and to laugh.

On the days she's too overwhelmed by the experience of being raped and abused by her husband over more than a decade, she fakes it.

It's hard work and it's exhausting.

"But life is for living and as much work as that will take, that is what I will do," the 41-year-old told Victoria's County Court after her former husband was convicted of nine charges of rape.

The woman gave permission for AAP to name the man, knowing doing so would identify her. She wanted his name out there and for what he did to be known.

But his lawyers sought and were granted a suppression order on Monday, preventing both of them from being identified.

She met her former husband in 2000 and they married three years later. Initially he was lovely and while there were some red flags around his behaviour earlier on, she didn't see them as red flags then.

Over the 13 years they were married he became progressively more abusive.

As well as the rapes, she was emotionally manipulated - told she was too fat, too stupid, too ugly. Good for nothing and not even that.

He told her she was lucky he'd have her because no one else would. For years she believed him and even now, five years after leaving him, she still battles to overcome his words as they replay in her mind.

"I fight every single day to prove that I am worth something," she said.

"That I am worth love, and that my love for others is worth something - even if that voice in my head tells me that I'm wrong."

The relationship has left the woman second guessing her ability to make decisions.

She became so convinced that she's the problem in every situation that she apologises for everything - sending birthday wishes, giving gifts, eating, breathing.

"I apologise for just existing at times - I cannot shake the sense that everything is my fault, even when it clearly is not," she said.

She apologised for believing that.

The woman lost friends because of the isolation her abuse caused and from the stories that emerged after she left the relationship.

The man's lies were woven with just enough twisted truth they seemed slightly believable to those who didn't know her.

"And since I dared break the code of silence that enshrouds domestic violence, (I) faced the wrath of outing the abuser and besmirching 'the good bloke'."

While crying on friends' shoulders she has wondered what good she is to them and has felt the weight of the shame some in society hold for the women who stay in abusive situations.

But she recognises that weight does not belong on her shoulders.

"I have to remember to lay that blame firmly at the feet of the perpetrator, the man who was meant to love me, my then-husband."

A pre-sentence hearing for the man is set to continue next month.

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