Danielle Guttridge is proof the tragic cycle of domestic violence can be broken.
Engulfed by laughter and the lively chatter of her three daughters, Danielle Guttridge is a picture of perfect calm and serenity. Danielle, 26, from Cootamundra in NSW, loves nothing better than to hear that happiest of sounds – little girls giggling at play. “It sure beats the years of tears,” she says, as her daughters Brooke, 9, Breanna, 7, and Aleisha, 6, play and run without fear of the next slap, raised voice or slamming door.
The happy moment isn’t lost on Danielle. Years of unspeakable terror, violence and mental anguish are finally over for her. “I’m living proof you can escape an abusive relationship and restore your life,” she says. “I just wish I’d had the courage to pick up the girls and leave earlier. Thankfully I finally did. “No man has the right to make you feel ugly, worthless or ashamed. No man has the right to hit you, ridicule or enslave you. No-one does.”
That’s the strong message Danielle will be sending on November 25 when Mission Australia hosts its annual White Ribbon Day. The White Ribbon Foundation’s primary aim is to prevent violence against women. “White Ribbon Day encourages men to take a stance against violence, by taking an oath swearing never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women,” she says. Her words of wisdom, like many of life’s lessons, have been learned the hard way.
At just 15, Danielle fell in love with Trent* while babysitting for a friend at a house where he was staying. “And by 16 I had fallen pregnant to him,” she explains. “The mental abuse started pretty well straight away. He was always making derogatory comments, saying horrible things to put me down. If he thought I was planning on leaving, he would say, “Who would want to take you?”
Danielle hoped life with him would improve, but three children later the abuse continued. “He started taking drugs. I’d finally pluck up the courage to leave and then he’d ring and start crying, saying how he was going to stop taking drugs, how he’d make the effort to change,” she says.
To support White Ribbon Day on November 25, visit www.whiteribbon.org.au/myoath.