Domestic violence incident

Campbelltown woman AnneMaree Hart sustained a head injury because of a serious domestic violence incident. 

“I met someone evil and he changed my life forever. 

“I’ve been in suicidal ideation for the last couple of years, fighting with medical professionals who denied there was anything wrong with me. But now that my injury has been recognised, I’m getting support through the NDIS and working with people who understand and who care. I feel blessed. 

Badly beaten by her partner at the time, Anne Maree remembers being shaken out of unconsciousness. 

Acknowledgment of brain injury

“For the next eight months, I was pretty much in survival mode, trying to find safety and medical attention. I went through paralysis and lost my ability to talk. I sought help at hospital, police, domestic violence shelters, and no-one could or would help me. It was just such a terrible time. Then it all came to a head on a day when I had no trauma, which triggered trauma induced psychosis.  

“I ended up in hospital, but no-one thought to check me for a head injury, despite what I told them, so spent the next three months in a mental health acute ward. I was popped on medication when I should have been in the brain injury unit. 

“When I was discharged – which only happened because the hospital had finally done scans and acknowledged that not only did I have a brain injury but also fractures to my neck– it wasn’t a case of them moving me to an appropriate ward, I was just sent home with no aftercare. I spent the next three years isolated in a bedroom; I didn’t feel the sun, the rain. I didn’t live.   

I didn’t actually understand what was going on myself until last year. The whole time though, I knew something was wrong with my head. Getting a diagnosis gave me the peace of mind and the clarity that I’ve needed to start my closure and to move on.  There’s been a lot of grief and trying to accept that these changes are permanent. It’s something that I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life.  

A lucky day

I’ve gone from being an executive assistant of sales and marketingan athlete, netball player, long-distance runner and martial arts lover, to not being able to even jog or plan my own life 

“Before the assault I was happy-go-lucky – nothing worried me. I never stressed out and I was very patient. No anger, whereas now I’m highly emotional and have some behavioural issues. 

What’s got me through is what I call my ‘lucky day’ – the day where I woke up realising how lucky I was to be here. That keeps me going; things like the smell of lemon, of flowers, my love of painting. Those things make me realise I’m just so happy to be here. 

The impact has been significant, but Anne-Maree refuses to give up hope.  

Adjusting to new life

Whereas before I wouldn’t even take Panadol, now I’m on medication day and night to keep me well. have to slow down my thinking to talk, I can’t plan, I can’t use a diary, I can’t work out mathematical equations that have words in them. I’m still studying but, because I have no memory, I have to write down every single word the teachers say, so I can do my assignments.  

All my relationships have changed. My ability to communicate or even be in a group setting is quite difficult; I try to escape pretty quickly 

“But my main aim coming out of this is to help others. I do lots of volunteer work, using my experience to help others in my community. I speak to schools and sit on a mental health board which advocates as well as raising awareness and funds for my community and hospital. 

The next steps

“From here it’s just about finding where I suit and what’s me, because I do have so many triggers. Along with my brain injury, I’ve been diagnosed with seven trauma based mental illnesses. The feeling of being sick doesn’t ever go away, it’s just that I have some days I can live with it and some days I feel I can’t. 

The sixth anniversary of my accident was on the 22nd of March 2021, and I’ve only just come to the realisation that the constant pressure I feel in my head isn’t really going to go. So that’s a hard topic. 

“There’s still a lot about this experience that I find shocking – a lot of work on acceptance still going on for me. Life is just so, so different. But i’m a very determined person and, because of my family circumstances, have always looked after myself. I’m not one to rely on anybody.  

The next step for me is to choose my new path. I’ve gone to the library, and I’m hiring some books on goal setting and life planning. I don’t know what I can do, I don’t know my capacity, but I’m ready to find out.