Last month, our Team Leader Rosemary Pillay attended a Safety Action Group meeting with other domestic violence support workers. Tanya, a Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Worker from the Newcastle Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, was one of the people at the meeting. She remembered Rose straight away.
“When Rose walked in, I knew her from Jenny’s Place shelter,” Tanya said. “She hasn’t changed a bit since I was there in 1992.”
Tanya approached Rose after the meeting and told her how they had met, almost 30 years ago. She then wrote to her:
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you what has led me to supporting women and children through Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Work.
After fleeing domestic violence from my father, my mum, my younger brother and myself were faced with being homeless. We were fortunate enough to be taken in by Jenny’s Place. I was eleven years old at the time and my brother was six.
I have fond memories of sitting with staff, including you Rose, who supported us and made us feel safe again. With a pen and notepad in hand I pretended to be a worker helping mums and children in the same situation as us.
During our stay at Jenny’s Place, I said to my Mum on numerous occasions that when I grow up, I want to be like the workers that are helping us.
I have followed my dreams and I now work as a Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Worker supporting women and children.
Thank you to the workers at Jenny’s Place for not only supporting us when we needed you the most, but for inspiring me to do what I do now and giving back what I received all those years ago.
Thanks for reaching out to me Rose. I feel very privileged to be able to share my inspiration with you.
Her stay in Jenny’s Place emergency shelter inspired Tanya’s childhood dream to help other women and children feel safe but it was many years before she was able to achieve it.
In the eight weeks she spent at the shelter, Tanya felt happy and settled. She said that the safety planning and support her family received from the staff at Jenny’s Place was an important part of their journey.
“The support allowed us all to move forward after living with the nightmare of domestic and family violence. There was not once in the time we were at Jenny’s Place that I felt unhappy. I felt welcome and safe. I never felt pushed away.”
Newmacq Housing (now Compass) found Tanya’s family transitional housing and they moved to Toronto. After going to the same school from kindergarten to Year 6, Tanya had to go to a new school, make new friends.
“I am outgoing but I still found it really challenging,” Tanya said. “Later, I trusted the wrong person as a 16-year old and became pregnant.”
With the support of her mother, she was able to keep her son. Then she married and had three more children, to a partner who was abusive.
“Ten years ago, I found myself in a safe room at Toronto. I was in a dark place.”
Although she expected things to get better once she had walked away from the relationship, things got worse.
“Problems can escalate for women. Things don’t always fall into place straight away. You need to be strong and keep going. A lot of women turn around and go back to abusive partners because they can’t manage.”
Tanya stayed strong. She had not forgotten her dream. In 2015, she started an online course in counselling. Although she completed her Diploma in Counselling in 2017, it was two more years before she built the confidence to apply for positions. She got her dream job at DVCAS on 1 April 2019.
“I am proud of where I have come from and what I have achieved. It is a privilege to share my inspiration and to get to help other women and children experiencing domestic and family violence. I know that whatever support you can get during this time is critical.
I don’t tell clients that I know what they are going through, but I do know.”