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Survivor Stories – Womensline

 

Survivor Stories – 01

Our Womensline received a Police referral from a station in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Far North Queensland, seeking assistance for a 17 year old First Nations female, Courtney*. The young woman had been experiencing domestic and family violence from a much older partner. The violence had been escalating over the past few months since there had been a death in Courtney’s close family. Due to living in a small remote community, Courtney’s partner lived in close proximity to her (both Courtney and her partner lived with their family). Courtney was also feeling tension between herself and her mother as the passing of their family member had inflamed pre-existing conflict. The Police advised that though Courtney’s partner was currently detained, there was a high likelihood he would be released within 24 hours, therefore this situation needed to be treated with a sense of urgency. Courtney had identified a safe family member whom resided in Mt Isa*, however, we were having difficulties getting in contact with them as Courtney did not having a contact number for them. It is our process to always confirm that family or friends identified to be safe, are willing to assist an individual who has contacted us for support, prior to us facilitating travel arrangements to alternative locations. In order to contact Courtney’s family and confirm they were supportive of her staying with them, the Womensline team had to coordinate with local Police to locate the family member and confirm they were happy to have the young women stay with them. Having confirmed safety and sustainability of the option in Mt Isa, the Womensline team booked the next available flight. Local Police supported Courtney to the airport. Courtney arrived safely and is now residing with her family in Mt Isa. Courtney remains connected to her culture and her goal is to engage back in education.

The collaborative action between DVConnect and local remote Police has enabled this vulnerable young woman whom has experienced significant trauma, the opportunity to live a safe life and has start her journey of healing. Courtney’s survivor story demonstrates DVConnect’s ability to quickly respond to complex circumstances, while also including culturally sensitive and appropriate practice. The initial call from Police was made less than 24 hours before Courtney was assisted with relocation to safety.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Survivor Stories – 02

Worker from a South East Queensland Hospital*, seeking safe accommodation for a very vulnerable client who had been admitted following a domestic violence incident. We were advised that the client, a transgender woman, was deaf and non-verbal, communicating via written notes or texts only and she had no phone. As a further challenge it was advised that the client, Shelly*, was from overseas, having entered the country on a tourist visa which had expired 2 days prior. Shelly wanted to return to her country of origin, but the person using violence had taken her passport. Following the initial contact with the hospital Social Worker and other medical staff, we were able to facilitate an extended social admission for Shelly due to her high level of vulnerability and to provide us with time to secure support for her on discharge. We then engaged directly with Shelly and the Embassy from her country of origin to get assistance in securing a visa and passport as a matter of priority. Given Shelly’s reliance on written communication, we sourced a Westnet phone and enlisted support from Centacare to deliver it directly to Shelly to enable text communication. Once Shelly had the phone set up, she was medically discharged and we booked motel accommodation and assisted her with travel to the motel.

DVConnect worked very closely with the Embassy and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Shelly’s documentation was confirmed within 2 business days. Shelly was promptly on a flight home to her mother within 4 days from her initial contact with us. The following day, the Womensline team received an email from the Embassy Consular or Shelly’s Embassy, simply stating: “this is amazing TEAMwork”. We also received a text message from Shelly who told us that she was so happy to be reunited with her mother and she thanked us for all of the support that we provided to assist her to safety. DVConnect’s strengths lie in our ability to respond quickly, think laterally and act collaboratively, in order to provide an individualised and sensitive response to women seeking safety in this dynamic and still emerging global world.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Survivor Stories 03

A Social Worker from a regional hospital contacted the Womensline, seeking assistance for a client who had been a victim of ongoing domestic violence. Janice was a woman in her late 50’s, and she had been experiencing abuse from her husband who was also her Carer. Janice was financially dependent on her abusive partner therefore she had no access to money. Also, with limited mobility skills(due to her disability) in addition to the recovery process associated with injuries sustained after a combination of neglect and abuse by her husband, Janice required access to a safe place that could also meet her care needs. In working closely with the Hospital Social Work team, DVConnect were able to identify that Janice had an adult daughter who lived interstate and who was eager to support. Over the period of time that Janice was in hospital, Janice’s’ daughter committed to setting her house up so that her mum had the aids required to support her appropriately.

Unable to travel or live independently, DVConnect were able to assist Janice’s daughter to travel to Queensland to collect her mum from the hospital. DVConnect then assisted mum and daughter to return to the adult daughter’s home interstate. Sourcing high security accommodation in the form of Shelter is not the only option that DVConnect is able to assist women into, and often times there are relatives or friends who our clients identify that are in a position where they want to and can provide their loved one with safe accommodation and support. DVConnect acknowledges that informal support networks can be essential for women’s wellbeing, and there can be a lot of value in these supports, as an alternative to when appropriate to do so.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Survivor Stories 04

Chen contacted the Womensline seeking information about what services DVConnect provides and how DVConnect might assist someone in her situation. Chen had been in a relationship with an abusive partner for 7 years and she had previously been in contact with the Womensline for counselling, support and information. On this most recent occasion, Chen contacted Womensline seeking immediate assistance to get to safety. When identifying potential difficulties and needs in sourcing safe accommodation, Chen stated that she had a 4 year old staffy cross dog named Marble, that she could not leave at home. In fact, part of the abuse that Chen’s partner had inflicted on her included tormenting Marble. Chen revealed that the idea of leaving Marble behind had been a huge barrier in her previously accessing DVConnect services beyond counselling and support, and Chen’s partner had directly threatened to harm or kill Marble if Chen ever left the relationship. The Womensline Counsellor that Chen spoke with discussed the Pets in Crisis program that DVConnect has available for women and their pets who have experienced domestic or family violence. Although initially reluctant to part from Marble for any extended period of time, Chen self-identified that whilst safety was a priority, assistance through the Pets in Crisis program was the best thing for herself and Marble, and knowing that DVConnect is partnered with reputable organisations through this program including the RSPCA Queensland, Chen decided to enter Marble into the program. On the same day that Chen contacted the Womensline, she had an appointment at a nearby RSPCA that participates in the Pets in Crisis program. Chen signed all documents that ensured Marble would be safe in foster care over a period of a month and then Chen was assisted to emergency motel accommodation and also refuge.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Survivor Stories 05

Bindi*, a young Aboriginal woman, was 19 years old when she contacted the Womensline with concerns about her safety and the safety of her 3 children, all of whom were under the age of 5 years old. Having fled her house with her children and very limited belongings, Bindi contacted from her neighbours home and disclosed that the violence she was experiencing in the house she shared with her partner had escalated since the birth of her youngest child, only 6 weeks ago. When Bindi initially contacted the Womensline, she was highly distressed and she communicated that she was terrified that her partner would come over to the neighbour’s house and force her and the children to return to the property. The Womensline counsellor and counsellor support worker were able to work as a team to manage this situation as best they could, by having one person always on the phone with Bindi whilst the other contacted the local Women’s Centre and organised a safe and supportive place for Bindi and her children to be and receive some face to face counselling and support with the children that was deemed essential for Bindi at this time. DVConnect orgnaised transport for Bindi and when her and the children arrived at the Women’s Centre. DVConnect worked closely with the staff at the Women’s Centre to ensure that Bindi didn’t have to re-tell her story to various services, and we organised emergency motel accommodation for her and her children. That evening once settled into the motel and when feeling a lot safer, Womensline staff commented that when they spoke with Bindi it was like speaking to a different person. Bindi felt supported and safe, and had been visited in the motel by a staff member from the Women’s Centre who gave Bindi children’s clothes, nappies and food so that she had more resources than what she had fled with. Bindi was deeply appreciative of the prompt response and support she had received through a coordinated service response facilitated by DVConnect. Bindi and her children were successfully referred onto high security Refuge accommodation.

DVConnect has many positive working relationships with partner agencies across Queensland, something that is particularly valuable in remote and regional areas where DVConnect can work with the partner organisations resources and local expertise. These relationships have proven to be essential in situations where women are in need of some basic material aid or face to face support, or even a comfortable place to sit with a cup of tea and feel safe for a couple of hours.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Survivor Stories – 06

Maria called DVConnect needing to leave home immediately. Maria has three little children and they are also unsafe because of their father’s rages toward Maria while they are present. Maria’s husband was currently at work and she had the three children with her at home. She has no supports and cannot go to her family in another state because he knows where they live and will arrive and it will be too much for her elderly parents. After speaking with Maria about her current situation and what needed to happen DVConnect arranged a cab to collect her and the children and they were placed in a motel in Brisbane while we looked for a refuge vacancy for her. Maria was supported at the motel by Safer Lives (a team from Micah). After four days in the motel and no refuge vacancies in Brisbane the Womensline Counsellor talked to Maria about a vacancy in central Queensland. At first Maria didn’t want to leave the southeast but after thinking about it she agreed. When Maria arrived at the refuge in central Queensland she called DVConnect with the following message. “Initially I didn’t want to go to what seemed the middle of nowhere but after arriving and being helped by members of the community with my bags and children and collected by the refuge worker I was a little more settled. But it wasn’t until after a good night’s sleep I feel like a new woman. I want DVConnect to know that you have taken all of the stress from my shoulders. I am so pleased that you gave me the soft nudge to come to this town because it is very much the new start that I and the children need. I am so amazed at how quickly and how well it has worked out for me. I just thank God that DVConnect exists for me and for other women”. It is feedback like this that just warms the hearts of the whole work group because without this we generally do not know what happens to most women we assist to refuge or other places of safety.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Survivor Stories – 07

Christina called DVConnect very unsure of what help she could expect from us. Christina said that she was a devout Christian and any thought of leaving her husband was so distressing for her to contemplate and was concerned about the type of advice she might receive from someone who is not a Christian. The counsellor was able to assure her that after they talk she would be the one making the decision about her life and that all DVConnect would do is provide her the information she needed, options for her to consider and support around both. Christina is typical of many of the women who call DVConnect that don’t fit the ‘conventional mould’ of what many believe is a victim and a perpetrator of domestic violence. Christina is well educated and financially secure and comes from the part of town where it is thought that there is no domestic violence. Christina holds a very high level position as a financial advisor for a large firm in town but she is also married to a very highly connected man and leaving him is not only a frightening prospect because of his terrorizing control of her but also because of the shame she will feel not only within her working and social environment but also her church. She said, “No one will believe that he could do that to me not even the pastor. He presents so well”. A safety plan was put in place between the Womensline counsellor and Christina and it was left that if she needed further help from us she would call. Three weeks later Christina called DVConnect to say that she would be leaving that night and needed our help get her from the property which we did.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Survivor Stories – 08

Kimberly is a young woman living on one of the islands in the Torres Strait with her partner and his family. Kimberly’s family are from another island so she had no supports of her own. Her partner attacked her last night and she and the baby are currently at the health clinic. Her partner has disappeared and the police will not find him as he will hide until they go and return to Thursday Island so it is not safe for her to stay. Kimberly would like to go to her family where she will be safe. Her family want her returned to them. DVConnect arranged a flight for Kimberly and the baby leaving the island the following morning. The health clinic agreed to look after Kimberly with the help of the local community police who would protect her until she was safely on the plane. DVConnect arranges up to four flights a week from the remote parts of the state including the Torres Strait, Gulf region and from Mt Isa to get women to safety. Those on Torres Strait who are not transported to family are often placed at the Lena Passi women’s Shelter on Thursday Island or flown onto the mainland if deemed more appropriate.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

Thank you for your help, for everything you have done for me over the last few days. Your services are more than impressive and impeccable for anyone who may be in danger or in need of help of any kind. I may not be here today without your protection and the services you provided me. It is amazing to know there are people out there that give their absolute best to keep others safe, because they can and they care. Before making the call to you I felt too ashamed and far too proud to ask anyone for help. But now I feel strong knowing that I had the courage to put my hand up and ask for help. It saved my life! 

Sarah, Gold Coast

We need your support.

With your donation we can:

  • Provide more emergency transport and accommodation to those escaping violence.
  • Provide more temporary accommodation for pets whose families have escaped violence.
  • Provide more crisis counselling to those who have experienced violence.
  • Educate Queenslanders on how they can help family/friends experiencing violence.