'I got strangled': Golriz Ghahraman opens up on surviving domestic violence

  • 10/10/2018

Golriz Ghahraman has revealed she's a survivor of domestic violence.

In an interview with Vice, the Green MP discussed the disproportionate amount of threatening messages she receives online - more, she says, than politicians much more powerful than her.

She said she's had first-hand experience with how verbal abuse can quickly spiral into physical violence because she was once in a deeply unhealthy relationship.

"I'd go out with my friends, there'd always be a massive fight," she said.

"I couldn't turn on my phone because every time I'd turn it on I'd just get a barrage of messages that would just be something like, 'slut-slut-slut-slut-slut,' or 'bitch-bitch-bitch-bitch-bitch-bitch'. And I'd just be like, 'oh well I've got to turn my phone off'."

The relationship got worse and worse, to the point where her partner began hurting her.

"Eventually, it got really physical. It was just like pushing and shaking and whatever. And then it got to a point where a couple of times I got strangled."

Ms Ghahraman was a vocal supporter of fellow Green MP Jan Logie's Bill to give victims of domestic violence 10 days of paid leave, which passed in Parliament in July.

"This Bill says we will all share in the cost of supporting survivors and their families, allowing survivors to remain in the work force whilst getting a little space and time to leave, to regroup," she said at the time.

As a public figure, Ms Ghahraman has been the target of racist attacks, with many online trolls questioning the legitimacy of her Iranian family's refugee status.

The abuse began as soon as she joined Twitter in June 2017, and worsened after she became an MP. Soon after giving her maiden speech to Parliament, which focused on immigration and xenophobia, she started receiving death threats and hacks.

Parliamentary Security said the cyber-attacks were coming from Russian IP addresses, she told Vice.

Ms Ghahraman admitted the abuse does upset her, and at times she's feared for her own safety.

"It does scare me... [If] I have to walk out that night on my own, or I might have to be alone at home or whatever, I remember Jo Cox."

Ms Cox was a British Labour MP who advocated for immigrant rights. She was murdered in 2016 by a man who shouted 'Britain first' before he shot and stabbed her multiple times.