“I had to leave to save my life. Think of Chopper Reid. That was the sort of guy I was escaping from.”

When Shez left her abusive partner, she had to leave her children behind with him.

“You’ve got to have somewhere to live. I didn’t have family, I didn’t have any support,” she said.

“Where do you go with two children?

“I had to fight three years to get them back.”

Decades later, Shaz was joined on Thursday evening by her daughter in Wollongong Central for a candle-light vigil, each candle representing the 67 women killed in Australia this year by a current or former partner.

Shez, as she preferes to be called. Photo: River Oliver McCrossen

The vigil was part of Reclaim the Night, an annual march marking its 40th international anniversary by calling on Australians to speak out about violence against women.

Speaker and performer Malika Elizabeth said governments give unequal attention to issues affecting women and issues involving men.

“A cricket scandal can get the whole nation talking. One punch can change many laws, but where is the necessary support for, and outrage about, what is happening here and now in Australia every week to the women of this country,” she said.

At least one woman dies every week in Australia from domestic violence, while one in six women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since age 15.

“Violence, if you look at it in a social context, happens when women are seen as being less than men,” Elizabeth said

“We need to raise our sons to know that they are just as good as girls.”

Marchers wearing purple lapped the garden outside the Illawarra Preforming Arts Centre before heading up Crown Street and stopping at the open air amphitheatre.

The lighthouse at Wollongong Head was lit purple to highlight the march.