Escaping Domestic Violence in a Pandemic
Friday 6 August 2020
For women and children experiencing domestic and family violence at home, coronavirus restrictions have played a part in the ability to access support. With normal routines distrupted, many have been trapped at home with their abuser and unable to leave or make the critical call for help. Since the ease of restrictions, domestic violence support services have reported a 56% increase in new referrals, according to Women’s Safety NSW.
Vinnies provide a range of support for women and children escaping domestic violence, including specialised domestic violence services across NSW and individual assistance through conferences. We aim to provide long-term support and friendship at what can be an extremely vulnerable time for women and children, helping them build new lives and move away from relationship violence through short-term accommodation and support, as well as helping them transition to permanent housing.
Shelley was happily married, a devoted stay-at-home mother and community volunteer. She and her husband had three kids under the age of four and were planning for another baby. Before long, everything changed.
Shelley’s husband had been abused as a child and his trauma resurfaced without warning. He fell into the grip of severe mental illness and became suspicious and aggressive towards his own family.
Shelley fought hard to save their marriage and get her husband the help he needed. But when he turned violent, she had to take out an apprehended violence order (AVO) to protect herself and her children.
“Within 24 hours he’d cut off my phone, he’d cut off all my bank accounts. So I lost my connection to people and we were then contacted by the real estate to say that he had severed the lease,” Shelley said.
“We lost our house, our possessions; it became a very desperate position within a week. I think at that point that’s when I was beside myself trying to contact the government and certain people, but no one could help. We were desperate, but every door was closed to us.”
In the blink of an eye, Shelley had become a single mum with three toddlers to care for (including one child with disabilities) – without a home, money or belongings.
“Everything had been stripped away. I felt like a complete failure,” she said.
That’s when she found the support she needed from Vinnies.
“With Vinnies, I wasn’t just a number, I was a person,” Shelley said. “There’s been no judgement, no strings attached… I just feel accepted.”
Providing Shelley and her family with essentials like food, clothing, bedding and school fees, Vinnies has offered additional support to keep the family car running and helping them to find temporary accommodation in a granny flat while waiting for a larger place to become available.
“Vinnies for me have been, in a weird way, the husband that I’ve never had. They’ve been the family that I’ve never had.”
The Supre Foundation has generously donated $15,000 to Vinnies to help us provide critical support to girls and women impacted by COVID-19, specifically to victims of domestic violence during this unprecedented time. We are so grateful for the Supré community in helping us continue to provide crisis accommodation and shelter, and long-term support and friendship, for women and children wanting to build new lives and move away from relationship violence. In addition, from now until end of August, 100% of proceeds from all Supré Foundation products will be donated between Vinnies, Food Bank and Beyond Blue to help with food, shelter and mental health services for vulnerable women during this uncertain time.
You can make a difference with a Supre Foundation tote, lip balm, tissue pack or mints. They have also recently added a Supre Foundation mask to the collection to help curb the spread during COVID-19.