Domestic violence perpetrator speaks up about his demons
A REFORMED domestic violence perpetrator has spoken out about breaking free of the demons from his past.
Speaking at a White Ribbon Day event at Lismore City Hall yesterday, Leonard Hickling, a Bundjalung man from Casino, said: "I'm not ashamed to share what I've done and speak out.
"There are things you can do to change, regardless of what you've been through or how hard life is."
Mr Hickling was one of seven children in a family who did not want him.
He was put up for adoption and changed homes three times.
As a young adult he struggled to accept the events of his childhood.
"I kept going around the same circles ... sleeping in the parks, my drug and alcohol abuse kept getting worse," he said.
"There came a time that I wanted to give up on life and I tried to commit suicide."
At 15 years old Mr Hickling met a girl who would later become his wife.
"She fell pregnant and we started a relationship ... given time I allowed my past and my dark demons to take over," he said.
"I hit her twice and it was constant verbal abuse everyday for 14-15 years of our relationship.
"There came a time when she packed up and left me."
Mr Hickling is proud to say that today he is still with his wife, and they have four children together.
"I'm just so proud to be here today to give people my testimony," he said.
"When I reflect back on four years ago I just see myself in the park sleeping around and doing drugs.
"But when I look at the whole four years to where I am today, I can't thank the Lord enough.
"My family, my wife and friends are the reason I'm standing here today."
Mr Hickling encouraged people stuck in a dangerous cycle that circumstances can't be changed, but attitudes and behaviours can.