real life

Rachel lost her childhood, then her mother. Now, she wants to help to save other Australian kids.

This 14-year-old survivor is lobbying the government for domestic violence awareness programs in schools. Will you help?

Trigger warning: This post deals with domestic violence and suicide, and may be triggering for some readers. 

Rachel* didn’t know what was happening in her home was different to any other home.

She, her three brothers and her mother endured countless instances of domestic violence until finally police became involved after one particularly devastating incident — an intervention that led 14-year-old Rachel to realise how serious the trauma she and her family had endured was.

Related content: She was a working mum of three, married to a physicist. Here’s how she became homeless.

The NSW family was homeless for nine months, and even after moving into a new home, the violence made its way back into their lives.

Eventually, suffering from depression on top of the verbal, physical and emotional abuse inflicted upon her, Rachel’s mother took her own life.

“I just don’t want anybody else to got through anything like domestic violence and not be able to speak up or know what is going on.”

That was only one month ago — but already, Rachel has taken action to try to help other families escape a similar fate.

Related content: Enough talk: it’s time to act on domestic violence.

In one small act which now has the potential to touch the lives of millions, Rachel created an online petition to lobby for domestic violence education and awareness programs in public schools.

And while the brave girl is focusing on lobbying the NSW government to introduce the programs right now, she says she’d like to see similar programs introduced across the country.

“We need just one lesson addressing what domestic violence is and what you can do about it. Something to address what is and isn’t acceptable,” she tells Mamamia.

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“I just don’t want anybody else to go through anything like domestic violence and not be able to speak up or know what is going on.”

Rachel grew up not knowing a violence-free home was a possibility.

Rachel’s biggest concern is that, because she didn’t realise what was happening to her was abnormal, she wasn’t able to report the violence.

“I was the end result of domestic violence, and maybe if I was able to help in the earliest stages I could have done something earlier,” she says. “We can’t let this issue go on.”

Her goal now is to save just one boy or girl from a similar trauma.

Related content: It’s only April and already 19 women have lost their lives to domestic violence.

“We need the NSW education system to teach their students about domestic violence,” she writes on her Change.org petition page. “By doing so , Children/adolescents will begin to speak up and get the help their family needs.”

Rachel has asked for 50,000 signatures to present to the NSW Department of Education, and in just one week she already has more than 36,000.

She’s overwhelmed by the support she’s received already.

“I know I can only dream, but I hope that someday, domestic violence will be a thing of the past,” she writes.

“My mum would be so proud – thank you all.”

You can sign the Change.org petition here.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

 If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT(1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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