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Support builds stability after escape from violence

24 November 2021

Support builds stability after escape from violence

Written by Holly Reed

The Salvos in Australia annually assist around 5800 women and children, at risk of, or experiencing, domestic and family violence (DFV)*. To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2021, Bams shares her story, saying the practical and emotional support she received after leaving a violent situation not only helped her find a level of stability, but also helped her to finally feel she had a voice.

The United Nations, promoting the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, reports that “violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace, as well as to the fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights”.

Some groups are more vulnerable with the United Nations reporting that “While gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable – for instance young girls and older women, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, migrants and refugees, indigenous women and ethnic minorities, or women and girls living with HIV and disabilities, and those living through humanitarian crises.”

Alone and vulnerable

A relative newcomer to Australia, as Bams prepared to leave a violent relationship, she had no family or other support available and no income. She feared that she might end up homeless, or be forced to live in an unsafe boarding facility.

“I remember I rang up the domestic violence line and then I just rang [The Salvation Army’s] Samaritan House and talked to them directly. The next day they were like ‘okay just come to do an assessment and intake’. It happened so quickly,” she says.

“Before I was admitted to Samaritan House, I tried to look to other places to shelter myself. Because I’m trans too, it’s even harder… One of the shelters [I tried first] wasn’t great, so how could I put myself at risk? I got to [Samaritan House] and I thought ‘… God helps me, I’m so lucky’.

Shelter from abuse

At Samaritan House, Bams was supported with shelter, food, clothing and safety, medical and dental care, legal assistance, access to counselling and workshops around healthy relationships. Importantly, she was given a safe space to process and discuss her traumatic experience of domestic violence amongst others who understood her pain.

Although the service usually offers short term stays, Bams was able to stay for over a year.

“Everything seems to be delayed with my court [due to COVID-19], so that’s why I [was] in Samaritan House for longer than others. I know that normally it’s short-term, so that’s another thing I’m so grateful for Samaritan House for helping me with this because of my situation,” she says.

During her time with the service, Bams says she saw many women and children come through and leave again. While everyone had a unique story, she says, domestic violence was a common thread. Sharing her experience with understanding staff and other women who had escaped violence meant a great deal to her.

“I feel like my voice [could] be heard,” she says.

Something special

As a long-term resident Bams also celebrated Christmas and a birthday at Samaritan House and she was deeply moved by the lengths the workers went to ensure residents felt special, including birthday and Christmas gifts and celebrations.

She says: “It’s not [just] about material things, it’s about their thoughtfulness. It’s made me feel like I’m not alone, I’m being cared for.”

Grateful for the support, Bams began volunteering to cook for the other residents and hopes that one day she will be able to find work in a restaurant and further her tertiary education in hospitality management.

As she continues her journey of recovery after violence and trauma and works with her caseworkers to build a secure future, Bams says that staff, management and donors’ support of The Salvation Army has given her safety she would not have had otherwise.

“Everything that I have today, without them I’d probably be staying on the street,” she says.

“The Salvation Army is Christian, but they help all kinds of people – any race, any background, any religion, they help. So, it’s just a big thanks to them that they support no matter who you are, I’m so grateful for that. “

To read more about the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women go to: https://www.un.org/en/observances/ending-violence-against-women-day

To learn more about family and domestic violence and how the Salvos can help, go to: https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/need-help/family-and-domestic-violence/learn-more-about-domestic-violence/  

*(Source: The Salvation Army Annual Report 2021)

The Salvation Army Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet and work and pay our respect to Elders past, present and future.

We value people of all cultures, languages, capacities, sexual orientations, gender identities and/or expressions. We are committed to providing programs that are fully inclusive. We are committed to the safety and wellbeing of people of all ages, particularly children.

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The Salvation Army is an international movement. Our mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name with love and without discrimination.

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