The Lived Experience Writing Program

Lived Experience

"He has always been proud of his left jab.

No one expects it to be so powerful, so quick. He’s bragged about it more times than you can remember. 

As luck would have it, it''s his left jab that connects with you first. It's unbelievable that you feel the engagement ring you brought him, but you do. The gold, cool against your cheek. Then his fist, with the force of his body behind it.

You gasp, the sharp intake of air in your lungs seeming to lessen the sound of his punch, and you can't help thinking it sounds nothing like it does in the movies. Your knees wobble but you do not fall. Not yet anyway. Because he has you by the throat, forcing you against the wall.

The swelling around your right eye is already so large that it's obscuring your vision, which is blurring because of the tears you cry. He's squeezing, and squeezing, and you just can't breathe.

Then suddenly, just when everything begins to go black, there’s that left fist again, but this time straight to your stomach, and he lets you crumple into yourself and fall. And you really, really can't breathe now. You cannot force your lungs to inhale.

The pain is sharp and throbbing all at once, but you don’t have time to focus on it long because he’s got you by the hair, dragging you to your feet. And that’s when you know his previous declarations of love are lies.

The truth of it is your swollen face, your salty tears, the fingerprints around your neck.

You can see the truth as strongly as it will be denied."


This powerful real-life story was written by Violet (not her real name), a brave young woman who completed one of Starick's Lived Experience writing workshops in 2019.

This therapeutic writing and confidence-building workshop is open to all women who have experienced domestic and family violence.

Guided by a writing coach, participantsl:

  • Write about their experiences
  • Discuss their stories
  • Share their experiences with the group

By creating a forum for those who have lived experience of domestic and family violence and helping them write then share their stories with others, Starick has created a powerful tool for healing and empowerment.

We also run a follow-up workshop that focuses on public speaking. Several graduates of this workshops are already sharing their experiences at public events, helping us to raise awareness of domestic and family violence in the community.

To discuss the workshops or to register your interest, email our Lived Experience convenor Jane Cornes Maclean at or call (08) 9478 5300.

Quick links to our domestic and family violence services