Once kept like a virtual prisoner in her own home by an abusive partner, Wollongong woman Jasmine has found social isolation particularly traumatic.
She's safe now, and is working hard to let go of the past and move on yet there's constant reminders, or triggers, of what she endured during a series of violent relationships.
Then along came the COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions and social isolation necessary to combat the threat.
Lockdown - and the associated job losses and financial stress for many - has led to a surge in domestic and family violence, and has rekindled the trauma for women like Jasmine.
"I grew up experiencing domestic violence at home, my mum was the perpetrator and used to bash my stepfather," she said.
"As an adult, I got into a series of relationships with abusive partners - with each relationship becoming more and more violent.
"I've been whipped, I've had broken bones, I've been held captive in my own home.
"And while it's been years since I left the last abusive situation, and I'm working hard to get my life back on track, there's always triggers.
"Social isolation - where you're kept away from those supports you have - is a big kick in the guts. And it's devastating for those still living with perpetrators."
Coercive control - where an abuser controls their victim's finances, who they see, where they go - is something used by many perpetrators of domestic violence.
"They mentally wear you down before they start physically abusing you," Jasmine said. "They isolate your from family, friends, anyone would would support you.
"That's why social isolation - while necessary - is taking such a toll on many in these situations."
I've been whipped, I've had broken bones, I've been held captive in my own home.Jasmine
Illawarra social worker, and Domestic Violence NSW spokeswoman, Renata Field said there'd been a spike in calls for help during the COVID lockdown.
What's more, she said, domestic violence experts are warning that the impacts of COVID-19 on women's safety are only just beginning to be felt, and will compound the risks women face from abusive partners or family members for months and potentially years after isolation measures are lifted.
"What we're seeing across the board are considerable complexities and challenges for women," Ms Field said.
"A huge number of jobs have been lost and there's financial stress on families.
"For women, a lot of the safe places where they go - to friends or parents or grandparents - they haven't been able to go to.
"But it's important for women to know that if things do escalate, there are safe places for them, that services are still open."
Ms Field said in the Illawarra - where domestic violence rates were high - there were a range of services including the Illawarra Women's Health Centre.
She's supportive of the centre's push to establish a Women's Trauma Recovery Centre to offer long-term, holistic support to women.
One in three women experience violence from an intimate partner, compared to one in 13 men, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018 personal safety study. Perpetrators in all cases are predominantly male.
The Mercury is also supporting the campaign to establish the centre with its Road to Recovery series, which is sharing the stories of Illawarra women with lived experience.
Along with the women's health centre, the Mercury will present an exhibition of these survivors by award-winning photographer Sylvia Liber once COVID restrictions are fully lifted.
Isolation lockdown a trigger for abused
Those of us currently working and supporting women experiencing domestic and family violence knew well the predictions for increased violence during this COVID-19 public health emergency.
Both global and Australian evidence shows that during times of economic and social distress rates inevitably rise. Recent reports from the UK, France, the US and China all confirmed our deepest concerns about what lay ahead.
The Illawarra Women's Health Centre's immediate response to COVID-19 was to fully prepare ... to ensure we could continue to provide safe, free, confidential, informed and immediate support during this crisis.
Initially, there was an eerie quietness yet we are now responding to a significantly increased number of women reaching out for support.
The women have devastating and complex stories. For many the violence is an escalation of abuse within an already violent relationship, for some the violence has emerged for the first time.
What we didn't necessarily see coming was that previously experienced domestic and family violence trauma would rush to the surface triggered by the rules and regulations of COVID-19.
For many women, no matter how much they know the logical reasons for the COVID-19 rules, these rules have triggered a trauma response.Sally Stevenson
Research makes it crystal clear: the trauma of domestic and family violence can have lifetime impact on women. The mind and the body store the memories of abuse, deep in the subconscious.
For so many women no matter how long ago, no matter how much work they have done to overcome the impact of the trauma, it continues to lie beneath the surface - waiting for the opportunity to waken and strike.
When this happens, the anxiety and fear and feelings of helplessness is upon them once again. It is as though the abuse was yesterday, and, as though even if they are long gone, the abuser is right there in the room with them. That opportunity came in the form of COVID -19.
For many women, no matter how much they know the logical reasons for the COVID-19 rules, these rules have triggered a trauma response.
Where once your perpetrator socially isolated you, using a classic domestic and family violence strategy, now the state is doing it. Where once your perpetrator would control your every movement, say who you could visit, when and for how long, now the state is doing it.
Where once you could access safe zones such as work, and school and women's centres and be with safe people during the day, now there is nowhere to go. Where once there was the hope of an end to this abuse, because however hard it might be there were options to leave. Now - or until recently - there was no end in sight.
Domestic and family violence is not only happening now for women and children, and increasing as predicted, the impact of COVID-19 is devastating for so many other women as they find themselves reliving past traumatic experiences.
This past trauma serves to strengthen our argument for support to establish an Australian first Women's Trauma Recovery Centre.
Those in need now can call the Illawarra Women's Health Centre on 4255 6800.
- Sally Stevenson, Illawarra Women's Health Centre