'She was being watched': Insight of domestic violence hell
SHE was being watched from afar, her every movement being tracked by her ex-partner.
He would follow her on her daily walks, watch her when she went to collect her mail and text her to let her know he was always there.
The Rockhampton mum, who cannot be named for safety reasons, was living in fear after ending the long-term relationship with her boyfriend.
Her daughter, who also cannot be named, watched on as her mother became a shell of the person she once was.
They thought nothing could be done to stop the harassment, which quickly escalated to include other family members and friends.
What the mother and daughter didn't realise was that she was in a domestic violence situation.
They assumed that because it was not physical nothing could be done. But after reporting what had been happening to police they soon realised what the former partner had been doing was in fact considered domestic violence.
The victim's daughter said it was a horrible experience to watch unfold and she hopes it never happens again.
"They were together for a few years and we didn't expect it to turn this ugly when the relationship ended," the daughter said.
"In a nutshell what he did was stalking, and she just felt so fearful of going anywhere.
"She was being watched. Anything she did he knew about, he was going into her work and her own home and she'd just always see his car following her around."
The daughter said her mum couldn't go shopping, go to work or simply drive around town without the sinking feeling of being watched.
"Before we got all of the mobile numbers changed and blocked she would get texts saying 'I hope you had a good time here' and she would not have even seen him and didn't even know he was there," she said.
"Just something as little as checking the mail or bringing the bin in was hard, she was too scared.
"She had to stop walking the dogs because she was being followed by him and he'd swerve the car towards her when he saw her."
The more the mother and family ignored him, the more he persisted.
"He turned his stalking to her work colleagues, he was going around to their houses and approaching them at the shops," the daughter said.
"That affected mum and all of her friendships because he made threats against her friends' family and their kids."
She said he would often tamper with their cars as well and damaged them several times.
"He has done things to my mum's vehicle and her new partner's vehicle," she said.
It got worse as the years went on and although the mother never responded to anything, he continued harassing her.
"With it happening so often mum sought help and that is when we sort of worked out it was a really serious thing," the daughter said.
"The police were helping, but he was still carrying out stalking and domestic violence so she was a little upset that more couldn't been done, but over the last couple of years a lot has been done and the police have done a lot of great work.
"People think the police do nothing or they can't do anything. Of course they are restricted with some things but they do as much as they possibly can. So seek help and go to the police."
Sergeant Warren Williams, who heads the local domestic violence investigation unit, said Rockhampton Police respond to all sorts of domestic violence every year.
From non-contact breaches through to violent incidents, controlling and manipulative behaviours, property damage and economic abuse, they see it all.
"I think for far too long we've had the perspective that if you rob a bank you're a criminal but what we are finding now is that you are more likely to go to prison and be sentenced for domestic violence-related offending," Sgt Williams said.
Sgt Williams said that police who investigate domestic violence incidents are confronted with all sorts of scenarios and they never truly know what to expect.
"There are a lot of reasons why there is tension amongst relationships, whether it be economic aspects, relationship difficulties, persons having trouble controlling their attention and aggression or other substance abuse issues," he said.
"But as part of the investigation you have to put that aside and keep the mindset that potentially this person does need some type of intervention to get some assistance for them."
Sgt Williams said many incidents in the household which they attend are very emotionally fuelled.
"When you go to those jobs you are confronted with those emotions and people are at their highest levels of violence and emotions are running high.
"So you are having to bring them back to reality, calm them down and separate the parties.
"Unfortunately some people will lock the door and won't let you into the residence when you are called to assist in an incident so unfortunately we will have to kick that door in and will have to go in and we don't know what obstacles officers face."
Every single day officers from Rockhampton stations respond to disturbances that are related to domestic violence.
Sgt Williams said the domestic violence task force's job was to follow up investigations which meant "picking up the pieces that are left for them the day or night before".
"I think we do get frustrated with the level of offending and the nature of the offending and the excuses we are presented with," Sgt Williams said.
"We have had enough, domestic violence has gone too far.
"Domestic violence no matter how you look at it, how you define it, is criminal offending that will be investigated and prosecuted and you will go to jail."