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‘I’ll never stop fighting’: DV victim’s search for justice

He would tell her that he missed her; that he loved her; and that he wanted her to "come home".

But Natalie Payne finally said no. No to the hidden bruises. No to the handprints around her neck and the constant fear.

And no to feeling like a prisoner in her own home.

The Warana woman reported Adam Juneman, 43, to police and filed for a domestic protection order.

Ms Payne has endured many assaults during her relationship with Juneman.

But on a Monday night in November 2019 he just went too far.

HerStory: Read six brave women's account of domestic violence here

Ms Payne had just arrived at the couple's Fort Knox home when she found her partner, drunk, standing at the front of the house, waiting for her and abusing anyone who walked past.

"I tried having a conversation with him but I knew he was very intoxicated and very heightened," she says.

"I went for a shower and watched TV trying not to show that I was scared.

"I looked over at him and he said 'I know I'm toxic and poison'. The next thing I knew he stood up and grabbed me by the back of my hair and slammed my head twice on the centre console of the lounge."

Ms Payne was in immense pain and scared for her life.

She ran to the front gate to flee the house, but Juneman followed.

"That's where he grabbed me … he grabbed me around the neck and he grabbed me by the arm and that's when he dragged me up the stairs to the kitchen and just said 'strip, you're leaving this house naked'," she says.

She managed to get out of his grip and escape with her dog, Marlie, to a nearby park where she called colleagues to come and pick her up.

Ms Payne stayed with colleagues, reported the incident to police and filed a domestic violence protection order.

But in the days after the attack Juneman would not leave her alone and would constantly plead with her to come home.

Natalie Payne fled a dangerous relationship in November last year. Picture: Patrick Woods
Natalie Payne fled a dangerous relationship in November last year. Picture: Patrick Woods

"His last message he sent to me was to express remorse and was very apologetic, using words like 'I'll never drink again', 'I miss you', 'forgive me' and 'I'll never hurt you again," she says.

Juneman was not always a monster.

The couple fell in love after they met online in 2017.

Ms Payne says during the first six months of her relationship with Adam Juneman, 43, he was "charismatic, gentlemanly and keen to impress".

But not long after moving in together, Juneman began showing controlling behaviour that would eventually lead to violence, she says.

"It started off emotionally, verbally, mentally and then the physical stuff came in," Ms Payne says.

"His initial red flags were telling me to be a good girl when I went to work, wanting to know where I was and when I would be home, questioning where I had stopped and why I was five minutes late.

"There were other warning signs accusing me of looking at other men and he would let me know I (was) his property."

Ms Payne says when the physical abuse started she would put on a brave face and make excuses to work colleagues, friends and family despite the terror she was facing at home.

"I was trying to be brave to the outside world, but he was slowly destroying and ostracising me from everyone that I valued in my life," she says.

"I didn't know who I was anymore."

The petite woman recalled several instances of terrifying abuse, one of which lasted 48 hours and involved her being pushed against a glass door with Juneman's hands around her neck while he yelled insults at her.

"I should have left the first time he touched me, but it's hard to leave," Ms Payne says.

"It's really hard to leave … unless you've got somewhere to go.

"He used to say to me 'don't you ever hurt me; don't you leave me because I love you'. This is not love."

Ms Payne confided in some colleagues and developed a safety plan which involved coded messages and the reassurance that someone would pick her up if the violence escalated.

Sunday marks one year since she fled the relationship.

But speaking to the Daily with a new-found sense of self, Ms Payne still doesn't have closure.

Juneman was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and was due for a hearing at Caloundra Magistrates Court on July 10.

He did not show up for his court date, but was found guilty after the magistrate heard evidence from police and Ms Payne.

As he could not be sentenced without being present in court, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Ms Payne, who spoke strongly of her determination to see Juneman behind bars, still had tears in her eyes when she described the past two months of uncertainty.

She says she believed he fled to NSW and was disappointed police had not been able to track him down.

"I'm not a police officer, I'm not an investigator, but it wasn't rocket science to track down where he was," she says.

"He should be locked up and suffer the consequences of his actions."

Ms Payne says she feels like the one who had been sentenced after more than two months of uncertainty, but was slowly returning to her normal self.

Natalie Payne says she won’t have closure until her attacker is behind bars. Picture: Patrick Woods
Natalie Payne says she won’t have closure until her attacker is behind bars. Picture: Patrick Woods

She says she never wanted to think of herself as a victim, and it took months for her to come to terms with the fact she was a survivor of domestic violence.

Now, she's a fighter.

"You hear about it, you read about it and you think to yourself 'I'll never go through this, I'll never be a victim'," she says.

"They strip away everything from you, I was a completely different person."

She says with a safety plan in place and a strong support network, women should feel confident they could escape dangerous relationships before having to ensure physical abuse.

"Everyone has the right to live in dignity in their own home, free from fear of violence or harm," she says.

"I am still fighting, and I will continue to fight until justice is done."

If this story has affected you or if you or someone you know is unsafe at home, please call DVConnect on 1800 811 811.