"My son called him Hitler”: Harrowing story of abuse
IT was the mid-1990s and Faith Wood, who had recently left an abusive relationship and had a 14-year-old son, was working in a call centre on the Coast.
"I finished at 2am at the call centre and after four hours sleep I went to church," she said.
There she met Jay, a man who she said was very good looking.
"A year later I married Jay and then we moved to a country town near Mundubbera."
Little did Faith know that her life was about to take a turn for the worse.
"I married him because he was supposed to help me have a home for abused children," she said.
"No, sadly. My son Grant, a little 14-year-old boy, was abused and I was abused.
"From rape to near-starvation.
"My son called him Hitler."
The abuse began just days into the marriage.
"One week after I was married, he pushed me against the wall because I asked him who was on the phone," Faith said.
"One week. I've got the doctors records to prove it because I had a bruised neck.
"There were three other men who were there. They said, 'Jay stop, you're hurting her.'
"That's when I shouldn't have moved to the farm. I should have stayed on the Coast - the worst was to come."
Faith travelled regularly back to the Coast for her job at the call centre, spending three days on the farm and four days on the coast.
"He took my money off me every time I came back from work," she said.
"When I got to the farm, I'd get abused almost immediately."
While she away, Jay was supposed to be working on building the children's home.
Though Faith said he never worked on it.
"He was a highly dysfunctional man," she said.
"When we drove from town to farm, he would stop and tell me to pick up the dead kangaroos on the side of the road.
"I'd say no, but no matter how dead they were he'd put it in the car and feed it to our animals.
"He was too mean to spend money on dog food or cat food," she said.
"He said, 'Come on, we're going to go kill a goat.'
"He took a gun and put the gun in my hand and said, 'You shoot.'
" I didn't want to shoot it but he controlled me. You do what you're told, when you're told and how you're told.
"I shot the goat and will never forget the light going out of its eyes. It was sickening."
Faith said she was physically and verbally abused over small things.
"I was punished all the time - I didn't make the bed right," she said.
"I didn't make the coffee right, I had to make it three times.
" 'You're stupid, you're stupid, you're stupid,' he'd say.
"It made me feel worthless. I wanted to die."
Faith said it went on for years: he hit her, he raped her, he controlled her.
"If we were out and he saw people from town, he'd say 'hello' and be friendly.
"He was considered friendly, outgoing, cheerful and people loved him.
"At home I was beaten, abused and starved."
Faith left Jay in the early 2000s after discovering a pamphlet about the stages of domestic violence.
She said she realised she was on the second-to-last stage, choking, and the final stage was death.
"I had to get out," she said.
Jay did not want to let her go, so he pursued her.
"He visited me at the flat (on the Coast around my birthday) when we were separated," she said.
"He brutally raped me anally. It was sickening and I had bruises on my legs.
"Afterwards I stood there with a baseball bat above my head and I was really going to kill him.
"He said if I hit him he'd kill me. It was checkmate.
"I didn't kill him, as he left because he knew I would kill him."
When Faith went to take out a DVO against Jay, the police officer, who lived about a mile away from, gave her a chilling message.
"He said, 'I have never heard a woman scream as much as you did,' " she said.
Faith said she later found out a number of the men who lived near her were also perpetrators.
Following a lengthy legal battle, Jay walked out and left the farm to Faith, although he still haunted her.
"He had booby trapped parts of the farm, like putting nails in drawers," she said.
"I was paranoid about security.
"Police said he could just shoot me through the window if he wanted."
It all became too much for Faith.
"I finally left the property in 2007," she said.
"I was just too traumatised."
The past few years have also been tough on Faith. She has not spoken to her son in years and got mixed up in an online dating scam.
"I'm homeless. I had a home but I lost it because of the online scam," she said.
"My son is a perpetrator now, too. His girlfriend has a DVO against him."
As for Jay, Faith said he had remarried.
The years of abuse have not stopped Faith travelling around, campaigning, supporting and advocating for domestic violence survivors.
"What I was dreaming about, for domestic violence to be taken seriously, is finally starting to happen," she said.
She said she shared her story so it could help other women in similar situations.
She is also working on a book about her experiences, which she said she hoped to have out by the end of the year.
Despite the terrible things that were done to her, Faith said she now had renewed hope in life.
"Faith, hope and belief in myself brought me through it," Faith said.
"It can with anyone else, too.
"I have a sense of humour that can't be knocked out of me."
For 24-hour support in Queensland phone DVConnect on 1800 811 811, MensLine on 1800 600 636 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800737732.
- All names in this story have been changed.