The wife of union boss John Setka has defended him as a man who supports women and claims his political enemies are using their marital issues to wage war against him.
Emma Walters walked hand-in-hand with her husband into a press conference on Wednesday after he was threatened with expulsion from the Australian Labor Party and rejected calls for him to resign the Victorian secretary of the CFMMEU.
"I am simply asking the people who are using our private lives to wage a political war against my husband John to stop," she said.
"My family has been dragged through the mud. We are asking for privacy to heal our marriage, protect our children, just as any parent would want to do."
Mr Setka said the recent allegations against him were "false". He was accused of telling a union meeting that the efforts of anti-family violence campaigner Rosie Batty had led to men having fewer rights.
His wife, a self-proclaimed feminist, said Mr Setka had increased the number of women in the construction industry.
"He has the utmost respect for women. It is wrong people are taking things in the way they are," she said.
The furore over Ms Batty has shed light on the couple's marital issues.
"We both have said and done things that we are not proud of, but this is not an opportunity to get John Setka. My family should not be used as political bait," Ms Walters told reporters in Melbourne.
Later when asked on Melbourne radio 3AW if she had forgiven her husband, she replied: "Absolutely".
Ms Walters said the family had been to "hell and back in the past few years".
"To have the scrutiny, the pain of watching your husband falsely accused of blackmail, to read through transcripts of personal telephone conversations that you have had with your husband, and other people, in which you are pouring out your heart and soul. In which my husband is describing miscarriages I have had and how we've dealt with those things as a family," she said.
"To read through them in a police brief and to know they will be used against your husband is horrific.
"We have been in a very, very dark place. It is very hard to watch the 'get John Setka campaign'."
Mr Setka made a brief reference to a legal matter before the courts but did not go into details apart from describing the impact on his family.
Last year, prosecutors withdrew blackmail charges against Mr Setka and his CFMMEU deputy Shaun Reardon over a dispute with concrete company Boral.