“He poured a drink down the back of my shirt and then laughed with his mates”

“Irene”, 82

 Part 1 of 4

I grew up in Sydney, and left school at 15. I worked in odd jobs for a few years and when I was about 20, I got a job working for 2UW radio station. One day after work, I reluctantly went out for a drink with a colleague. It was there that I met my future husband - he poured a drink down the back of my shirt and then laughed with his mates. I stupidly told him my name and where I worked, and so he eventually tracked me down to the radio station. Over time, he persisted in going out with me. At the time I was desperate to get out of home, and because he wore me down, we eventually got together.

He was always such the sociable type, and such a playboy. He was always well dressed – nice suits, nice shirts, and nice shoes.  He could also be such a gentleman - pulling out your chair, opening the door, lighting your cigarette. We used to have a lot of fun for the most part. We got married in April 1959, and our first son was born in May - that was a bit of a scandal in those days, being pregnant before marriage.

Things changed after we were married. I found out that he had been married before, and that he was just going through his divorce - he didn’t even have the decency to tell me. And he always had other women. Before he would come home to me, his mother who never liked me, always used to wash his shirts and sheets after he was with these other women.  

It’s also when the violence started.

Dione Brockwell