WARNING: This contains images and descriptions of domestic abuse and could be triggering for some individuals.
"My name is Suzanne Northey.
In May this year I was attacked by someone whom I once trusted. After
punching me repeatedly in the face and head, he sat on top of me and
choked me, all the while telling me that he would put my body in a
His strong hands around my neck as he counted back from 5 saying he was
going to cut off my air supply- the pressure in his fingers closing in on
my throat makes me feel physically sick today.
I had never been punched before, let alone punched consecutively in the
face and head with such frenzied repetition. It's a surreal feeling as
his clenched fist hits my cheek with such a force that I could feel my
face fly in another direction.
I remember I was too shocked to defend
myself or comprehend what was happening. My face felt foreign, like it
didn't belong to me anymore, yet I was still conscious and my brain was
still working although it's encasing felt like mush -- it is so sudden
and so powerful.
The skin immediately swellsŠ my cheeks felt like balloons filled with
waterŠ I couldn't close my mouth Š and I could taste blood. I couldn't
see properly out of my right eye and my left eye was swollen shut.
There fear of being attacked in a room I could not escape from and the
surreal feeling of wondering if this was how I was going to die- never
see my children or family again. The fear where time seemed to stop while
he kept attacking still haunts me today.
I spent three nights in hospital - I was too ashamed to tell my friends
and family who my attacker was. I lied and said I had been mugged.
In hospital I was alone - I wanted it that way. My phone was flat so I
didn't call anyone - I felt so ashamed.
I needed time with my thoughts to process what had happened. I thought by
being hidden away and silent I was protecting my children I was irrational.
I thought by not contacting family friends or my children while I was in hospital
they wouldn¹t have to know then they wouldn't have to worry. Looking back now
my children suffered terribly those days in thinking I was creating
anxiety and state of fear that has follow on effects months later with
sudden outbursts and concern for my whereabouts and safety. I can hear
the fear in their voice when they come in the door yelling out "Mum,
Mum," or the text message out of the blue "Mum where are you"
My daughter had to take over running the house in the early months while
she juggled her VCE studies, and my two sons each went through their
personal grief, I was too ashamed to talk to them about what happened- I
When I looked in the mirror for the first time since I entered hospital I
didn't recognise myself my head was the size and roundness of a giant
pumpkin. I remember asking the nurses how long it would take before I was
"back to normal." They explained head injuries take many months to heal-
they were right.
It's not only the physical injuries it¹s also the emotional injuries. I
found myself scared of the slightest raised voice for example I was
sitting in the doctor¹s surgery and a man was in the waiting room and I
started to sweat and become agitated for fear he was going to attack
for no reason. I would be in a supermarket and suddenly be overcome by
fear and just leave.
Months on and I fell in the bathroom and suddenly my mind was back in
that flat that night I was sobbing and scared. The flashbacks continued
for days reliving parts of that night nothing made sense- it was
irrational- I was irrational and pushing people away who were only trying
I went to a shopping centre and suddenly a man was having a
disagreement with a woman and I saw Nick he was in the faces of
everyone at that very moment and I lost all sense of time and didn¹t know
how to get out of the centre. Perspiration and a sense of fear engulfed
me time and time again.
I found it difficult to go out preferring to stay at home and work-
making every excuse to limit my time outside. I sleep I can¹t seem to
get enough of it- sleeping three hours of an afternoon, and then again at
night apparently it is the brain recovering from the trauma or maybe
it¹s the fact when I am asleep I don¹t have to face reality.
I was a total husk of my former self and yet I felt powerless to do
anything- I was just drained and exhausted I didn't "feel".
I need to work to support my three children and since that night I can't
begin to describe how hard it is to concentrate.. my brain just won't
co-operate/ tasks that were easy are now an effort. A simple phone call
can be a challenge to stay focused.
I remembered one day I had three conversations in one afternoon and being
absolutely exhausted just from the concentration of maintaining a train
of thought. This was devastating to me as Communication both verbal and
written is my career- and it was stripped away.
Financially the lack of income because of my reduced capacity to work has
had dramatic impact.
Nick Pribil has been terrorizing women all his life. He is a bully. The
pattern of violence has to stop as I dread to think what will happen to
his next victim.
His excuse of drugs is one he has also been using most
of his life - I am still very angry at myself for allowing him into my
If you are a victim of domestic abuse or know someone who could be, visit www.1800respect.org.au
Watch Suzanne's full story online this Thursday.