Anne O’Neill
Anne O’Neill Photo Contributed

'You have the right to live free of fear' : DV victim

TWENTY-ONE years ago Ann O'Neill hugged her children for the last time.

Hours after kissing six-year-old Kyle and four-year-old Latisha good night, the Perth woman was staring down the barrel of a shotgun wielded by her estranged husband.

The then 24-year-old was sleeping next to her children when Norm O'Neill broke into her home and started shooting.

Dr O'Neill did everything she could to save her son and daughter but they had no chance.

"... the first thing Ann knows is that the light of the bedroom goes on," Detective Senior Sergeant Peter De La Motte told Australia Story in 2004.

"And then Norm shoots the two children in the chest with a pump-action shotgun.

"She throws herself across the children, at which stage Norm shoots her and gets her in her leg.

"Norm then very coolly and calmly says to Ann, 'I'm going now you can call the police'."

Before Dr O'Neill made that call, her husband of seven years turned the gun on himself.

Dr O'Neill's injuries were so bad that doctors had no choice but to remove her leg.

Dr O'Neill; Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty; Michael Costigan, who's niece Tara was killed by her ex-partner in April; Rebecca Poulson, who's father, niece and nephew were killed by her sister's estranged partner; and sexual assault survivor Megan Dunstone presented a united front during the Our Watch media awards launch at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Rosie Batty calls on media to help end domestic violence

"No-one does anything to deserve abuse, you have the right to live free of fear and abuse," Dr O'Neill told APN Newsdesk.

"Abuse invloves fear and using that fear to control another person and that's a key message we often miss in the media - fear is what keeps people there (at home).

"Fear of what will happen to them or their loved ones or their animals.

"Fear is such a cruel tool but there are services out there and there are people wanting to help.

"The world is full of good people but we just hear about the bad ones."

Dr O'Neill will always grieve her children, but she has found the strength to rebuild her life and to help other victims along the way.

She remarried a few years ago and now has a son.

She started Angelhands - a not-for-profit organisation providing support for victims of violence - and is also a motivational speaker and researcher.

"A problem is an opportunity and I've had the opportunity to study, I've had the opportunity to raise awareness," she said of the aftermath of losing Kyle and Latisha.

"Everyday is a gift and I've used every one of my days as best as I can and I will continue to do so."

If you or someone you know needs help, phone DV Connect on 1800 811 811, DV Line on 1800 656 463 or 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).

 

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