We need to be better, domestic violence survivor says at vigil

Murray Bridge teen Ebony von Rochow is determined to give the next generation a better childhood than she had. The rest of us need to do our part, too.

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Ebony von Rochow has a fire burning within her: “I’m going to be better.”

Even as a teenager, she is already determined to make sure that the generation after hers will have a better experience of childhood than she did.

She mustered enough courage to share her story with about 60 people who gathered on the banks of the River Murray on Wednesday afternoon, holding a vigil for victims of domestic violence.

Ebony counts herself a survivor.

She left home at 13 to escape what she described as physical and mental abuse, and moved in with a family member.

There she was fed, clothed and sheltered; but she was also severely restricted in what she could and couldn’t do.

Four years later she left again, and finally found safety – then she found her voice.

Then she found her voice.

“Now I’m living with my amazing partner and working my arse off to be someone who is better, who makes better choices, who treats loved ones better than I have ever been treated, to love the way I should have been loved, and making the change to be better – something that society needs to do as well,” she said.

“It’s not easy, moving on from abuse; sometimes, unfortunately, the paranoia, the fight-or-flight mistrust that comes with living under those circumstances, follows you; sometimes you find yourself struggling with future relationships.

“But at the end of the day it’s about how you want to change ... and it’s possible.”

Roses are cast into the River Murray in memory of the dozens of women and children who have died as a result of domestic violence during the past year. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Mourners grieve the women they knew and dozens they didn’t

The Murray Bridge Regional Collaboration on Violence Against Women and Children organised the annual vigil in memory of the 55 Australian women who were killed by their partners, or another family member, last year; and the 11 who have died so far this year.

Last year, when a ban on public gatherings was in effect, locals were asked to light a candle in their homes.

This year, in keeping with previous years, roses were cast into the River Murray; a poem was read, Another Woman; and Raukkan songwriter Katie Aspel sang an original song, entitled I Miss You:

I hope that one day we'll meet again
My dear old friend, I miss you
And though the days seemed long, you were so strong
Darling one, I miss you

Spokesman Tim Law promised that the collaboration would keep speaking out on the issue until all men – anyone can perpetrate abuse, but the killers are almost always men – got the message that violence and other forms of abuse were not okay.

“We’ll keep meeting every year until domestic violence is no more,” he said.

“Don’t be silent, don’t be violent.”