After escaping a violent relationship only to spend the next two years homeless and sleeping in her car with her young daughter, Leah found herself wondering if she had made the right choice after all.
“At one point, he had a knife and was threatening to stab me. When I managed to escape, he jumped in my car and tried to run me down,” the Brisbane resident said.
“I knew I did the right thing for myself and my daughter in leaving. But after spending two years living in our small car, I found myself missing the stability of having a place to call home.
“Besides my daughter, I felt like I just had nothing. I was constantly applying for homes but wasn’t getting anywhere — I felt like giving up.
Leah story is not unique – one in five Australians will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, a situation that has only escalated since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charity Vinnies Queensland is concerned Queenslanders like Leah escaping an abusive relationship will find themselves with nowhere to go, thanks to record low vacancy rates and an ongoing rental crisis across the state.
“Domestic violence rates are increasing while affordable accommodation is almost nowhere to be found, up and down the state” Vinnies Queensland CEO Kevin Mercer said.
“We are forced to make the heartbreaking choice of choosing which domestic violence survivors we can provide shelter to, as our crisis accommodation shelters just cannot keep up with demand.”
Despite the trauma and violence Leah lived through, she considers herself one of the lucky ones, having been able to secure a home for herself and her daughter through Vinnies.
“I genuinely don’t know what would happen if Vinnies wasn’t there to give us a home – I don’t even know if I’d be alive,” she said.
“I was so appreciative of the help I received, but I couldn’t but help think of the other mums who applied for the place my daughter and I are living at – I don’t know their stories. Did they deserve it more than me?”
Mr Mercer said Vinnies Queensland had launched their Winter Appeal to raise vital funds and awareness for other domestic violence victims looking for a way to escape their situation.
“Even just a small donation will help us provide shelter, food, clothes, bedding and other essential support this winter,” he said.
“While it has been an extremely challenging time to keep up with demand during this housing crisis, knowing we can still help people like Leah who have a place to call home reminds me why our mission is so important.”
To donate to the Vinnies Queensland Winter Appeal, visit vinnies.org.au/donate