TWENTY-ONE years ago Ann O'Neill hugged her children for the last time.
Hours after kissing Kyle, 6, and Latisha, 4, goodnight, she was staring down the barrel of a shotgun wielded by her estranged husband, Norm O'Neill.
Dr O'Neill did everything she could to save her son and daughter, but they had no chance and she could not stop her attacker turning the gun on himself.
The Perth resident, along with Australian of the Year Rosie Batty and other violence survivors, Michael Costigan, Rebecca Poulson and Megan Dunstone, presented a united front during the Our Watch media awards launch at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.
"No one does anything to deserve abuse," Dr O'Neill said.
"You have the right to live free of fear and abuse.
"Abuse involves fear and using that fear to control another person and that's a key message we often miss in the media - fear is what keeps people there (at home).
"Fear is such a cruel tool, but there are services out there and there are people wanting to help."
Dr O'Neill will always grieve for her children, but she remarried a few years ago and now has a son.
She started Angelhands - a not-for-profit organisation providing support for victims of violence - and is also a motivational speaker and researcher.
"A problem is an opportunity and I've had the opportunity to study, I've had the opportunity to raise awareness," she said of the aftermath of losing Kyle and Latisha.
"Every day is a gift and I've used every one of my days as best as I can and I will continue to do so."
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