Who do you turn to if the husband belting you is also a policeman?
What if he threatens to rape your teenage daughter if you report him?
Pauline (not her real name), an accountant from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’s capital, has grappled with these questions in the past.
The well-dressed and highly educated mother-of-two endured 17 years of family and sexual violence.
She’s had two miscarriages because of the bashings.
“I have damage to my reproductive organs,” she said.
“Every time I tried to defend myself and my children I suffered unimaginable injuries that almost ended my life,” Pauline said.
Years ago she had a gut-wrenching wait to find out if she was HIV positive after a tip off that there was a case among her husband’s posse of mistresses and prostitutes.
Fortunately, the test came back negative.
Health authorities were able to point her in the right direction to seek help and justice.
Pauline went over the heads of her suburb’s local police and took the bold step to press charges.
Her estranged husband is facing more than 30 counts of marital rape, and has been suspended from the police force, while the legal process takes its course.
He regularly offers bribes to judges and has also used his position as an officer to have her arrested on dubious charges, she says.
“Before we enter the court, he’s there in the (judge’s) office,” Pauline said.
Pauline is adamant she must keep fighting to hold her ex-husband to account in order to protect herself and her children.
Many women stayed silent out of fear, because of threats from perpetrators as well as a sense of inferiority, family and clan implications, and consequences such as financial hardship, Pauline said.
“Victim blaming is a big problem,” she said.
Pauline is grateful her employer gives her time off work to attend court cases.
Time off was costing companies between three to nine per cent of payroll or 300,000 Kina ($A125,879) to 3 million ($A1.25 million)
Business Coalition for Women chair and Origin Energy PNG general manager Lesieli Moala Taviri said in the trying economic times at the moment she anticipated more social problems.
* * PNG readers seeking help and counselling for family and sexual violence should phone the 1-TOK KAUNSELIN HELPIM LAIN national hotline
* Reporter Lisa Martin travelled to Port Moresby as a guest of Femili PNG during Rosie Batty’s recent visit.
Australian domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.