Watching mechanic Tamyka Nguyen working her magic under a car bonnet, it’s hard to believe her two greatest fears were once men and cars.
But the softly spoken 27-year-old admits a violent relationship once left her so fearful of the human touch she could not even embrace her own family.
Petite Tamyka, from Canberra, was 20 when she met John*, from Melbourne, on a dating website.
At first he was everything she’d dreamt of. She felt like the ‘luckiest woman in the world’ when he flew to her home to surprise her on her 21st birthday. But six months into their long-distance relationship, the cracks began to appear.
‘I was studying for my hospitality course one day when he asked me to come and look at a car with him,’ she tells New Idea.
‘I had no idea about cars so I simply suggested he take his dad.
‘The next thing, he slammed the door and threw a chair at me, then one of the drawers from his dresser. I remember seeing blood and thinking that he was bleeding, but then I realised it
was my blood.’
After John begged for another chance, petrified Tamyka reluctantly took her boyfriend back. But it was only months before the next beating occurred.
She recalls how he punched her, crushed her phone and threatened to kill her family, friends and beloved pet dog if she left him.
Then, one dreadful night, he strangled her until she passed out.
‘He somehow convinced me that I had done wrong and needed to be punished,’ she explains.
‘He would lock me in his room for days – I couldn’t even use the toilet. I couldn’t escape, he’d just follow me.’
After six months, Tamyka eventually found an ally in John’s father. Aware of his son’s violent behaviour, he helped her escape from their Melbourne home and return to her family and friends.
She then went to the police station and took out an AVO.
After years of therapy, Tamyka realised she had to face her two greatest fears – men and cars.
She has since become Porsche Australia’s first female apprentice.
Six years on, Tamyka is speaking out about her ordeal for the first time to support New Idea’s We Care packs campaign, which offers practical support to women escaping violence and to let them know they are not alone.
‘The times when I thought about leaving him, I had nothing and felt like nothing,’ she adds.
‘Anything that can help vulnerable women will mean everything to them.’
How can you help?
New Idea is raising funds for victims of domestic violence to provide them with We Care Packs. We aim to help one woman a day in 2016 – but we need your help to do that.
Please support our campaign and donate at www.wecarepacks.com.au, powered by Donate Planet.
Proceeds will be put towards further packs and as little as $5 can help us deliver this much-needed service for women everywhere.