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» Gibney's Painful Past
by Michelle Hele

June 24, 2003

ACTRESS Rebecca Gibney has revealed she underwent therapy to overcome the trauma of having watched her alcoholic father regularly beat her mother.

In what has been called a "dramatic and intimate interview", the star of Halifax f.p. and Stingers told the Australian Women's Weekly her childhood memories were of slammed doors, angry shouts and the "sharp crack" of an open-handed slap from her father.

"My father was a violent alcoholic who used to beat my mother," Gibney said.

"There's no easy way to say that, but it's the truth."

The youngest of six children, Gibney said her mother, Shirley, had bruises that lasted for up to six months.

Her mother had managed to shield her children from the abuse by smuggling them out of the house and putting them to sleep in the family's car during the drunken rampages of Gibney's father, Austin.

Gibney, who was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia in 1984, said her mother never sought help or left her husband.

Only now, after years of anxiety, insecurity and therapy, has Gibney come to terms with her past.

She recently began work for the Salvation Army's domestic violence counselling service in Melbourne.

The interview appears in the July edition of the magazine, which is available from tomorrow.

Domestic Violence Resource Centre chairwoman Karyn Walsh said yesterday it was important for people in the public eye to speak out about the issue.

This helped remove the stigma of domestic violence and encouraged victims who were otherwise hesitant to seek help.

"Domestic violence, by its nature, is an isolating experience," Ms Walsh said.

"Other people don't always see it and I suppose a lot of people blame themselves. So when people such as Rebecca speak out, it gives other people strength."

State Government figures indicate that 50 people in Queensland applied for domestic violence orders every day last month.

New laws allow anyone in an intimate personal, family or informal-care relationship to apply for a domestic violence order.

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