Jane Matts' young children watched on as her then husband held a knife to her throat, threatening her life.
The abuse had started just a few weeks after her daughter was born, and it would take years for her to get away.
Now the Sydney woman is sharing her story to help others, and was in the region on Friday to support the Illawarra Women's Health Centre in its bid to establish an Australian-first domestic and family violence trauma (DFV) recovery centre.
"I've experienced physical, emotional and financial abuse," she said.
"My daughter and son witnessed that abuse and it had a significant impact on them.
"My daughter left school in Year 9 but is now at uni doing well ... yet she would never have got through without trauma-informed counselling to help her through her anger, grief and pain."
Illawarra Women's Health centre general manager Sally Stevenson is seeking government funding to establish the stand-alone DFV centre within the next 12 months.
"There's a lot of focus on crisis and immediate support - which there should be," she said.
"But there's very little, if any, long-term services providing support to women needing to recover from trauma - which can impact them for many years or a lifetime.
"We want to set up a centre that will offer a holistic, long-term approach to recovery, helping to break the inter-generational cycle of violence."
On Friday night, the centre will launch its campaign to lobby government to fund the initial costs of the centre, estimated at $800,000, and ongoing annual running costs of around $1.5 million.
"If you put that in context - a KPMG report estimated the cost of DFV to the Australian economy was around $21 billion each year," Ms Stevenson said.
"If you translate that to the population of the Illawarra, that's a cost of $259 million per year - so funding this centre would be an excellent investment for our region.
"And it's a model that could be replicated elsewhere."
The emotional and physical costs of DFV can't be counted - but they're felt across the region.
"The need is there, it's immediate, it's urgent," Ms Stevenson said.
"Domestic and family violence should be considered an emergency in this country.
"We'd hope to have this centre up and running within 12 to 18 months if given the funding."
At the launch will be representatives from the region's health, judicial, legal, community and business sector, who'll be asked to lend their support to the campaign.
Ms Stevenson said during the first three years it was expected the centre's practitioners would assist over 400 domestic and family violence survivors.
The centre would be staffed by a core team of mental health professionals who were trauma informed, while experts in other areas - such as housing and legal affairs - would also be available.
"We want to walk with the women on their journey," Ms Stevenson said, "and offer them tailored emotional support, as well as broader social and legal supports."
If you need support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the NSW DV line on 1800 65 64 63.