It had been almost a year since Courtney Stevens left her husband Darren Williams.
There had been violence in the relationship, but with an order in place preventing Darren coming near her, Courtney, 29, and her two-year-old daughter went to bed together on October 14, 2012, thinking they were safe.
‘I must have woken due to the pain,’ remembers Courtney.
Careful not to disturb her daughter, she crept into the lounge room – and it was there she realised there was a knife in her chest.
‘I was in utter shock. I’d been stabbed,’ the Toowoomba resident shudders. ‘It was only after raising the alarm and checking my daughter was OK that I finally collapsed.’
Courtney had suffered a shattered chest plate, a punctured lung and broken ribs. But she was lucky. The 12cm knife had missed her heart by just centimetres.
‘When police told me Darren had done it, I couldn’t believe it,’ she says. ‘Our daughter was lying next to me. I didn’t think even he was capable.’
It took a guilty verdict of attempted murder for Courtney to accept that her ex Darren, 38, could indeed try and take her life. ‘I was so angry at him and the system,’ Courtney says.
‘The judge even said Darren had treated the domestic violence order like a piece of confetti, and I was mad he’d been allowed to.’
Williams was sentenced to 15 years in jail, but Courtney says he is still breaching his DVO by sending her constant letters. ‘It feels like he has a hold over me from jail,’ she says. ‘He should be told he’s not allowed to write to me, but letters keep slipping through the net.’
Courtney is now in a new relationship, but she fears what will happen when Williams is freed.
Williams is already back in court trying to appeal the length of his sentence, and Courtney was incredulous when the judge commented that 15 years was a ‘high sentence’ for attempted murder.
Now she worries that Williams could be out much sooner than the 15 years he was originally given.
‘Nobody could protect me before, how will I be safe when Darren is out again?’ she asks. ‘More should be done.’
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 more.
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.