We know leaving domestic violence is never easy, but what we don’t often talk about is how hard the ‘what comes next’ part can be too.
Recently I worked with a Mum with three small children who were doing it tough. Mum had no friends or family in Australia, no support network and no job. She had basic English skills, but when it came to reading and writing, it made everything doubly difficult. Especially when looking for a home of their own.
I helped this family and got them all the relevant appointments with service providers to find her a house, but her lack of English meant that every viewing or appointment she was met with fear and dread of not saying or doing the right thing. So one day, when a house inspection came up, I agreed to go with them.
I could tell she was nervous, and I reassured her that it would be fine and that I was there to help. But when we got inside, I started to get nervous too…There were so many people, so many other couples and families also looking for a house.
We had a moment to speak with the real estate agent, and I told him about this family’s situation, about why they left, and about their financial position. He said he understood the situation but had to look at all the other applications too.
But it only took a day for him to call me and offer this family the place! He told me, he ‘wanted to help the children have a safe and stable home’. This was a big sense of relief for Mum and her kids, who are all very happy. Finally a home of their own!
This experience made me realise the role not only individuals like have to play in ensuring safety for women, but also the whole network we have created through Bonnie’s. We have outreach workers from Women’s Legal Services, DCJ Housing, Centrelink who make up the family of Bonnie’s network to assist women seeking safety from domestic violence. These are the people who make the ‘what comes next’ bit all a lot easier.
This positive experience, of finally getting her own place has boosted her confidence and empowered her to continue pursuing her many goals ahead.
Women at Bonnie’s now know they do not have to walk this journey alone, but that we are here to support them every step of the way.