By August 2013, Sarah Kelly was at the point of leaving her controlling and violent husband. Then something happened that made it impossible for her to stay.
‘We’d been out on a family boat trip, and, as always, something happened that sparked Alan’s temper,’ Sarah tells New Idea. ‘He punched me in the face. Immediately I was in agony.’
With several witnesses, including Sarah’s five-year-old son, the police were called for the first time in Sarah’s 11-year history as a victim of domestic violence.
‘I’d always coped with it before,’ Sarah admits. ‘The abuse was mainly verbal, with the odd assault. But this was different.’
This time, with his single punch, Alan Williams had ruptured Sarah’s right eyeball, fractured her cheekbone and jaw, and broken a bone in her nose. After 10 days in hospital, Sarah returned home – but she had lost the sight in her right eye forever.
‘I was in extreme pain and I was terrified what Alan would do to me and the kids,’ she remembers. ‘He had been charged with endangering my life, but he was out on bail and I knew he’d be angry.’
Sarah lived in fear for the next 14 months, as she waited for the case to go to court.
‘I was living on high alert, dealing with a permanent disability and two terrified children, but Alan was free to live his life,’ she says. ‘It made me so angry. The court process shouldn’t have taken that long.’
To add insult to injury, Williams’ court date was adjourned six times.
‘Each time I’d get so stressed about facing him. I’d have to psych myself up and then I’d get a call to say it was cancelled. It made me physically sick.’
Alan James Williams, 42, was finally sentenced to 18 months in jail in January this year, but is eligible for parole in nine months.
‘In comparison, I have a facial deformity, which will haunt me for life,’ says Sarah, 34. ‘I’m glad he’s gone to jail, but I’m so angry with the legal system that put me through hell for so long.
‘It’s extended the impact of the attack, and even now there’s no real relief, as he’ll be out soon and living a normal life, while I will live with a deformity on my face forever.’
New Idea is raising funds for victims of domestic violence to provide them with We Care Packs. We aim to help one woman a day in 2016 – but we need your help to do that.
Please support our campaign and donate at www.wecarepacks.com.au, powered by Donate Planet.
Proceeds will be put towards further packs and as little as $5 can help us deliver this much-needed service for women everywhere.