“Through the discomfort of challenge, we can become the best version of ourselves.”
Strong and powerful words from obstetrician and White Ribbon advocate Dr Angela Jay as she recounts her story of surviving domestic violence in Port Macquarie.
Dr Jay was working in Port Macquarie when she suffered serious knife wounds in the attack on November 3, 2016 at the hands of a former partner.
On day two of the 2018 Luminosity Youth Summit she shared how she overcame intense fear and dealt with the trauma of surviving a truly horrifying and violent ordeal.
“Domestic violence touches us all, either ourselves, family or friends or colleagues,” Dr Jay said.
“One in four will experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner and the most dangerous place for a woman is in the house – where for a man it is at the pub.
“I tell my story not because it is unique but because it is not.”
Dr Jay said her violent relationship started the same as any loving relationship before it turned bad.
“I had just moved to Port Macquarie for work and I was isolated from friends and family and all alone,” she said.
“So I decided to get out and meet people and I signed up to Tinder.
“When I first met him he was charming, loving and he made me feel special.
“I was so happy and in love that I missed all the warning signs – I found it odd that he worked out my phone password but he said he was just looking out for me.”
She said over time things turned and she was so worried about her safety she was living with friends close by.
“After I broke it off with him he kept wanting more and told me he would kill himself if I didn’t come and meet him.
“It was a very scary time and I was constantly worried about my safety.
“I felt trapped and embarrassed about the situation and felt like I couldn’t tell my friends.
“When things got really back I asked for help from the police and I am so grateful for all their help.
“On the day of my attack I needed to pop back to my house for some clean washing as I had been living with my friend and I thought it would be safe to go home during the day.
“I was wrong, and you don’t know how terrifying it is lying there after being stabbed 11 times and covered in petrol waiting to be lit on fire.
“I knew in that moment if I was going to survive I had to run and thankfully my neighbours helped me and the police shot my attacker later that night.”
Dr Jay said since her attack she battled a range of emotions and after accepting professional help she is feeling stronger physically and mentally.
“I went back to work only four weeks after my attack because I wanted to have purpose again and to take control of my life.
“Immediately after my attack I felt great – I mean I had survived but in the months after I really struggled with my mental health and it took me a while to go and get help.
“At work I was pretty good because I would focus all my energy into making sure I was the best doctor I could be but when I would go home it all came crashing back down.
“When I did seek professional help it really did help me and I want to let others know that it is okay to seek help because good mental health is so important.”
She said at her worst she knew she had to keep getting up and face her challenges.
“During those time it was pretty bad but I kept getting back it.
“I literally got up when I was stabbed down but mentally as well.
“I think it is important to acknowledge the emotional pain but I know through determination and help you can get through anything.”
And in the years since her attack, Dr Jay said she has turned her traumatic experience into empowerment.
“I have become a White Ribbon advocate and I have raised more than $100,000 for White Ribbon by completing two Treks for Respect, one in Australia and one along the Kokoda Trail.
“I wanted to do something physical and when I found out about the Trek for Respect I knew that is what I wanted to do.
“Walking the Kokoda Trail was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
“But on my backpack I had white ribbons to remember the women who were killed in domestic violence the year I was almost a statistic and it got me through.
“The physical challenge of the trek was very powerful and I hope by continuing to tell my story I can empower others to not be so afraid to tell someone what they are going through.”