There was a time when Lisa Bonavita felt trapped by domestic violence.

Over a number of years, the mother-of-three faced physical and financial mistreatment at the hands of her partner, until one day she decided it was time to break the cycle of violence.

“I realised I was at rock bottom and I had three children. When you are left with the possibility of losing your children, you stand up and recognise that you need to make changes,” Ms Bonavita said.

“I realised I needed to free the children and break the cycle of violence.”

Ms Bonavita credits support services, including WIRE – the Women’s Information and Referral Exchange – and her mentor, with helping her to start a new life.

“It wasn’t a light journey, it was a very challenging journey but if you don’t undertake it, you are continuing on that rollercoaster,” she said. “It was reconstructing my life. Finding my mentor was my breakthrough.”

Ms Bonavita, who has a diploma in counselling and has volunteered with WIRE, is hosting an event at Creeds Farm Living and Learning Centre in Epping North next week in the hope of encouraging other women to share their stories and mentor each other.

“We need to stimulate the conversation and change the way we look at this; not as victims but as victors,” she said. “Domestic violence is such a scourge on society. No one wants to talk about it, no one wants to know about it. Women feel trapped and we need to let them know things can be different.

“I was once in their shoes and gradually found my voice.”

Survive and Thrive is on Wednesday, May 24, 7-9pm. Details: 0401 413 005