Newcastle Woman of the Year Helen Cummings shares her very personal insights into Domestic Violence

Helen Cummings - Newcastle Woman of the Year

Source: via @SamAlfordtwit

Helen is a survivor of domestic violence. After leaving her husband and taking her two infant children to flee from harm, her ex-husband went on to remarry and subsequently killed his wife and four-year old daughter before taking his own life.

Helen had a subsequent 20 year career in the Family Law Courts, earned her Associate Law Degree and for 10 years was an Associate to a Federal Judge. Helen then became an author, with her life chronicled in her book ‘Blood Vows – A haunting memoir of marriage and murder’. She is now retired, although still tirelessly advocating for those who cannot find their voice.

This year Helen’s tireless work was recognised when she was awarded Newcastle Woman of the Year. This interview with Helen is timely since the topic of domestic violence is finally being talked about in main stream media. It is a most intriguing insight into the issue, and into what we can do about fixing it.


  • 27,000 NSW women reported cases of domestic assaults to the police in the last year (an average of 74 assaults per day!). These are not just minor arguments – these are women that have been seriously assaulted and are frightened enough to bring it to the attention of police, for all the added risk that brings;
  • Three-quarters of all women killed in NSW die at the hands of their loved ones;
  • This issue does not discriminate. Women who died from domestic violence come from every class, and ages vary from 15 to 80. A quarter are over 45;
  • Less than half of the instances of domestic violence are reported;
  • Of those that finally work up the courage to leave and seek refuge, up to half are turned away due to not enough available space at refuges;
  • Approximately 45% of the domestic assaults that are reported are assaults against children by a parent;
  • The most dangerous time for a woman and her children that are victims of domestic abuse is after she leaves the relationship; and finally
  • One woman dies as a result of domestic violence every week in Australia.

About nswrwn

NSW Rural Women’s Network is a government program working in innovative ways to promote leadership and action on rural women’s issues. The RWN team is dedicated to connecting and exchanging information with women and stakeholders in rural, regional and remote communities.
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