A chance to make better memories

Monday 31 January 2022

“Before I came to Vinnies I was desperate to escape my husband – the domestic violence, alcohol, gambling, abuse – I had to escape to keep my children safe.”

For years, Amy presented a brave front to family and friends. However, away from the eyes of the world, she and her three children were subjected to a life of hell.

“My ex was very verbally abusive towards me, but it was the boys who were going to get the belt or spoon,” Amy recalls.

“He would put my eldest son in the corner and hold up his fist.

“He would smoke and drink in the house and didn’t care that my kids were drinking alcohol and unable to say no.”

Trapped in a volatile environment that included resistance whenever she wanted to see her family, a life-altering choice arose when her mother became aware of the untenable situation.

Faced with an ultimatum to leave or have her children removed through FACS, Amy plotted her escape with assistance of the family that she had been deprived of for too long.

“I took what I could and made out that I was staying at my sister’s [place] for a night.”

“He said I could stay for the weekend but I had to be back on Tuesday at 5 o’clock.

“When I wasn’t back at 5, he called ‘Where are you? Why aren’t you back at home?’ “I said, ‘I’m not coming back’.”

Spending two weeks with her mother and sister before moving between a number of refuges, Amy eventually landed at the Marian Centre – a service run by Vinnies for women with children escaping domestic and family violence – where slowly things began to improve.

“It was very hard on the boys at first; they weren’t sleeping and it took a few months until they were settling in better.”

“The staff genuinely cared and helped me with everything – furniture, food – every support needed was there.

“The kids made friends and got to see that they weren’t alone; there were other people – unfortunately – going through the same thing.”

After spending several months at the Marian Centre acclimatising to life away from her ex, Amy was able to secure a house of her own and develop a sense of community within her new neighbourhood.

“Now that our house has been set up, I feel more in control and it’s starting to feel like home.”

“The boys are in a really good school and pre-school which makes a huge difference getting that support.

“There are really no words to describe the support I’ve been given – a lot of it – people have been amazing and so generous.”

Now living life without fear after years of torment, Amy is determined to make a better life for her children.

“We’re doing really well now in a routine and getting some normal back into our lives. “I’m planning with my sister to take the boys to see the snow for the first time.

“It’s a chance to make memories – better memories.”

Each year more than 24,000 people experience domestic and family violence in NSW. Your support allows Vinnies to be there for women and children in their time of need through services such as the Marian Centre.