22 December 2022

'I still feel broken': woman spat on, kissed and strangled during assault

| Albert McKnight
Coat of Arms on court building

A 26-year-old has been convicted on charges of assaulting a woman. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses domestic abuse.

A survivor of domestic violence has spoken out after her ex-partner strangled and assaulted her, kissing and spitting on her as he did so.

“After all this time, I still feel broken,” she told the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday (20 December).

She said she returned to work after the attack in November 2021, but the bruise on her face showed through her makeup and others stared.

She ended up taking time off work, lost her job and her apartment, but said, “the sad thing is I lost myself”.

For the last year, the survivor felt like she needed to go to a mental health ward or a retreat of some kind more times than she could count.

“After all this time, I’m still not okay,” she said.

“I’m also haunted by the thoughts of never being able to form a healthy relationship.”

She started to cry while addressing the court, but finished by telling her ex, “I have turned my life around, as I hope I finally get to heal from you”.

Her now-26-year-old ex-partner pleaded guilty to charges of strangulation, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault over the attack.

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They had ended their on-again, off-again relationship last year before they got into an argument at her home in Gungahlin.

He called her a “sh-t mum”, so she slapped him. He kicked her, she kicked and punched him back and told him to leave her home.

But he grabbed her by her ponytail, pulled her to the ground, laid on top of her and strangled her, making her gasp for air, before he hit her in the face.

When he got off her, he told her she had pushed him to that point.

The prosecutor told the court it was somewhat disturbing he had been kissing her while carrying out the attack.

She also said spitting on the survivor had been particularly degrading and dehumanising.

The man’s lawyer, Max Haesler from Hugo Law Group, said his client had turned his life around, hadn’t offended again since he was arrested and worked in Sydney as a skilled labourer.

Mr Haesler said the criminal justice process had been extremely confronting for his client as he spent a night in custody on the night of the attack and had been incredibly distressed when he was arrested.

He also said the man was now in a long-term, “loving” relationship and was helping his partner raise her children.

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Magistrate Beth Campbell noted how strangulation “must be terrifying for the victim”.

Also, she said, “spitting at any human being, no matter what, is unforgivable”, and showed contempt for that person.

She said his conduct was so severe it warranted a term of imprisonment, but she would suspend it immediately.

Magistrate Campbell convicted him on his charges and sentenced him to four months’ jail, suspended for a 12-month good behaviour order before telling him to go “back to NSW; pull your head down”.

The man has not been named to avoid identifying the survivor.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 02 6247 2525, The Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline: 13 11 14. In an emergency, call 000.

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