After a night out celebrating his partner’s birthday, Russell Vickery was awoken during the night.
“I felt someone jump on me,” he said.
It was his partner. A violent episode ensued and Russell was left with a broken nose.
The violence got progressively worse over the next five years, broken bones became commonplace.
“It was a pretty terrible relationship. I didn’t know what was happening to me. Nobody had any words to describe what this was,” he said.
“The abuse was not just physical it was mental. He took away every ounce of self-esteem I had.”
Russell sought help from support services but was knocked back, he says, because he was a homosexual.
Having surgery on a broken elbow gave Russell time to reflect on how toxic his relationship had become and he separated.
Russell hopes sharing his story will raise awareness of family violence rates in same-sex couples and improve service responses to LGBTIQ victims of family violence.
“I’m very clearly inside the LGBTIQ community – we know family violence (men v men) happens at same rate as men’s v women,” he said.
“I want people to be aware inside our community that this is something that is happening and that nobody needs to put up with.
“My experience from the service sector at the time was atrocious. That sector needed to move forward with the time and understand they need to provide support to people within our community.”
Bendigo Health, along with other family violence service sector agencies, are working to improve their identification and response to family and intimate partner violence incidents for all members of the community. Russell’s story highlights that we can, and need, to do better.
All clinicians and health professionals need to be respectful, inquire sensitively and proactively support family violence victim survivors. Bendigo Health is working to improve systems, processes and protocols and increase access to suitable training for staff, to ensure that stories like Russell’s’ are not repeated in the future.
If you are experiencing family violence support is available.