He was 11 years old when he followed his mother out of the family home, never to return.
Up to that point, the young Ray Martin recalls having witnessed his mother suffer enormous emotional, verbal, and physical abuse at the hands of his drunk father.
It is a story that has taken most of the 74-year-old's life to tell. But, in June, he will return to Wagga to once again share his experiences.
"Ray Martin is well-known, he's been on our TVs for years," said Gail Meyer, event organiser and Wagga Women's Health Centre manager.
"Him sharing his own story breaks down that idea that these things only happen to one section of the community. No-one is immune, it can happen to anyone of any background in any walk of life."
It is a sentiment agreed upon by Wagga City Council's community director Janice Summerhayes, in light of the current statistics that indicate the city's rate of domestic violence is 29.4 per cent higher than the state average.
"Bringing a keynote speaker with the calibre of Ray Martin to Wagga is an opportunity to keep the conversation around domestic violence, equity and respect open," she said.
"This is a great opportunity to hear the story of a well-known and respected role model who will be sharing his story on this wide spread issue which has significant impacts on our community."
The event on June 5 at the civic theatre will involve a panel discussion with the veteran journalist joined by Women's Health Centre vice president Genevieve Fleming, Wagga's Senior Constable Troy Fisher and NRL Respect community manager Steve Meredith.
The panel's gender ratio, Ms Meyer said, was a deliberate choice to bring attention to the "one in three women [in Australia] who will experience violence at the hands of a current or former partner."
"Domestic violence kills one woman every week in Australia, it just beggars belief," Ms Meyer said.
"But it's the subtlest things that can have the biggest effect. The little messages we grow up with, the behaviours we accept, even the idea that traditional positions of power are still considered male.
"National and international research shows that respect and equality - or a lack of it really - contribute to the prevalence of domestic violence. So this panel will bring people together to show on stage what it looks like for men and women to hold each other equal."
The idea for the panel stemmed from research conducted as part of the joint council and women's health The DV Project: 2650.
Begun just under a year ago, the FACS-funded project is a qualitative research experiment in determining the prevailing attitudes and opinions of the community surrounding gender roles.
The first investiture of results were compiled from the responses of 1083 residents over the age of 18.
Despite her involvement with the subject every day, Ms Meyer still describes herself as "personally shocked by it. Some of the attitudes were shocking."
"One of the main things [that shocked me] was the conservative attitudes of younger people," she said.
For example, 20.5 per cent of respondents agreed that a woman has to have a child to feel fulfilled, which is well above the nation's average agreement which sits at 12 per cent.
The initial report concludes: "Men were 2.8 to 7.1 times more likely than women to score more conservatively on every question in this dimension, suggesting that men in Wagga have strong beliefs in traditional gender roles and unequal power relations."
But already, she said, the project is having a desired effect.
"We noticed when we started researched we also started getting more reports of domestic violence," said Ms Meyer.
"We thought, 'well this shouldn't be the way it goes, we should be seeing more violence now that we're bringing the violence to the community's attention'."
"But then we realised, the message is getting out there. It's not more violence, it's more people seeking help because the message is getting out there, that it is a crime, and you will be believed if you seek support."
Tickets to the My Story. Our Story event can be purchased on the civic theatre's website.