MEREDITH went for three years without speaking a word to anyone - even her own children - for fear of what her husband might have done to her.
"He would accuse me of talking out of school about our relationship to other people," she told the NewsMail.
"I was scared I'd let something slip that could be misconstrued the wrong way and I'd be in trouble - I wasn't game to speak."
The circumstances faced by Meredith (not her real name) is just one of the many that has prompted the NewsMail to launch its DV campaign and fight for better education programs for perpetrators and young people.
Her husband had once been a "wonderful, happy, capable and caring" man but, after just four years of marriage, he turned into a controlling and violent monster.
"Gradually he became more controlling, which I didn't realise at the time," the middle-aged woman said.
"Then it went to physical abuse - hitting, punching, getting stomped on."
Looking back on her experience, Meredith believes she was merely being "groomed" by her husband.
"The more the isolation happens, the more control they take over you as you don't have anyone to use as a sounding board," she said.
During her 14-year nightmare, Meredith said she would get thrown out of the house in the middle of the night, and would often have to hide in the garden until her husband had either fallen into a drunken slumber, or given up looking for her.
"It was mainly when he was drunk," she said.
Meredith said the mind games were just as damaging.
"He was scared of losing control," she said.
The hardest thing to deal with, Meredith said, was the isolation from her friends, colleagues and her children.
"You don't notice it to start with, then all of a sudden you wake up and realise you've got no control over your own life," she said.
Meredith said she had been hopeful her husband had changed when he promised to give up drinking.
"He kept that promise for 12 months and, during that time, he was a nice person," she said.
"But then he started drinking again."
Meredith also said there had been a six-year period where her husband did not lay a finger on her, but the psychological abuse continued - until she decided enough was enough, and left the marriage six months ago.
Meredith said the turbulent relationship had taken a huge toll on her children.
"A couple of the children have followed the path of being an abuser," she said.
"The others still wear the scars the same as I do."
Meredith said it was important for perpetrators of domestic violence to attend mandatory behavioural change programs.
"There are some relationships that can be saved."
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