These are the stories of the many brave and courageous women in our community who, with the right support, have found freedom and safety away from domestic violence.

As we walk in her shoes we can learn true, practical ways to support these women and those like them to find freedom and safety. When we empower ourselves, we empower change.

He’d throw all my stuff outside and tell me to leave. So, I’d go to leave, and then he’d tell me to get my stuff and get back inside.

1 in 3 women in a relationship experienced coercive control behaviours from their partner in the pandemic

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW 2021)

It became easier to stop seeing friends and family because it would always cause a big fight. So over time I stopped doing it, and I stopped answering my phone. If I did speak to them, I would delete the numbers afterwards just in case it upset him.

People don’t realise that people can behave like a totally different person behind closed doors. They don’t believe it’s possible. In public he was nice and wanted to hold my hand, at home he treated me like I was worthless.

He would give me a few dollars to go and get food, and I would have to keep the receipt to prove what I’d bought. One day I bought a chicken wing for myself, and I ate it quickly and threw away the evidence.

He wouldn’t share his work roster with me, so I didn’t know when he’d be there to look after the kids. I had to quit my job.

It’s like you must have superpowers because you’re stripped of the ability to be strong – you need triple the strength to leave. I walked away with my kids and one bag of clothes.

An abusive partner breaks down your ability to trust your own perceptions, so you are more likely to stay in the abusive relationship.

You know there’s light, you just don’t know how to get there. Having plans in place to show you the path is crucial – you need a vision of what’s ahead so you can feel confident to leave.

It’s like a house where brick by brick you are crumbling.

You don’t know what’s up what’s down, left or right, all you know is what’s in your head and you think it’s right, but you’re so confused and not sure. Others don’t believe you – it wasn’t until I recorded my partner that his friends believed me.

It takes everything you are as a person and just leaves a shell.

The violence started with small things like being shoved occasionally or frequent yelling. Eventually he started punching the wall next to me or throwing things, which turned into physical violence.

Domestic violence assaults rose by 9.3% in the Hunter Region over the pandemic.

Society has an image of what a victim ‘looks’ like and they are all stereotypes. Stereotypes are one of the biggest dangers to women who are victims of abuse.

There is a false assumption that once the ‘crisis’ phase is ‘over’ and an AVO has been granted, that the survivor is safe and can get on with her life. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. The recovery phase is fraught with many obstacles and challenges.

People think you leave and then you’re done, that everything is free and easy. But that’s where the real pain starts. It’s hitting rock bottom and walking away with nothing and having to rebuild.

The biggest thing for me is being able to tell your story and have someone listen to you, understand, and believe you. To have a voice. When you’re not doubted. When they don’t assume you’re ‘seeking attention’.

It’s validation.

There is stigma in letting someone else help you. Because you think you don’t deserve it – when you’re abused, you’re told you’re worthless and made to think you don’t deserve help.

I still had a house and kids and was working, so I didn’t realise I was eligible for refuge help.

Domestic or family violence against women is the single largest driver of homelessness for women in Australia.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW 2021)

There were times when friends recognised what was going on and tried to help, but it wasn’t until I had left the relationship and saw a psychologist that I realised what I had experienced was abuse. The relationship goes from highs to lows, and it blindsides you, you don’t realise how abusive it is. Sometimes, it’s not until you look at the bigger picture that you realise.

We need a common language around abuse – once we can put words to what is happening it becomes real. Then we can say ‘this is happening’. We have words for it.

I wasn’t aware that refuges for this kind of thing were out there. I never got any help throughout my 20-year journey, I’ve only started doing that in the last few years. I had no idea about the services available.

It was

a moment...

to

breathe...

just
breathe...

Recovery is physical and emotional. It’s a journey of picking up pieces of yourself and reconnecting them back together to find yourself again.

I’m studying now to give back and support other women. I’m doing a Cert 3 at TAFE – I received support to pay for my laptop, a printer, stationary supplies, and they helped me find employment. It’s amazing to have so much support.

Re-learning, rebuilding, baby steps, out from under excessive and abusive control and manipulation, FREEDOM!

Jenny’s Place, because of my situation, allowed me to stay for 3 months in the refuge until I could find somewhere safe. I felt bad about that at the beginning, but they made me feel comfortable.’ I couldn’t believe that people who didn’t even know me were willing to help me unconditionally.

Factors crucial to survival and recovery after escaping domestic violence:

  • Financial independence
  • Financial recovery
  • Safe housing
  • Safe social support
  • Effective mental health support

Jenny’s Place are a safety net – there to catch you if you fall. Society says ‘you’ll be right, you’ll figure it out’… but not everyone can do this, many don’t have the resources or the strength. I have a bed to sleep in. Food vouchers. Things for the kitchen. Government support that I had no idea was available – Jenny’s Place enabled this and did this for me. They validate, inform, educate, and truly support.

Listen to the Spoken Word Performance

At Jenny’s Place, our mission is simple – to be there beside her and show her there’s a safe place to land. At Jenny’s Place we’re committed to keeping women and children in our community safe, housed and free from violence. We empower women through honesty, transparency, equality, compassion and decency.

Thank you

We would like to thank the women in our community who shared their stories with us, which formed the basis for this piece of work. We hope it brings a sense of acknowledgement for all those who have or are, experiencing domestic violence.

We see you. We believe in you. We are here for you. 

Written by Nikki Wright

Spoken by Sara Motta

Produced by Anthony Marsh

Illustrations by Liz Knapp

Soundtrack (Stories) by Jakub Pietras

Register now for

Empowered Walk
2023

Sponsors and Supporters