Sisters of Charity Foundation Australia

In her own words: domestic violence survivors speak

Foundation staff and supporters had the rare opportunity to meet domestic violence survivors and the inspirational women who help them during a visit to Community Grants recipient Moving Forward.

Moving Forward has been a recipient of our Community Grants Program for six years. The organisation is a specialist case management service for women and children who are experiencing, escaping or have left domestic and family violence. Based in Sydney’s south, it provides comprehensive practical support as well as therapeutic and educational workshops and case management.

Testimonials from domestic violence survivors

“I fled and went to a refuge with my two small children, Moving Forward helped me so much with referrals to other helpful organisations. They kept touching base with me to make sure I was ok, asking if there was anything I needed support with. I was helped with clothing and toys for my children, cleaning products, toiletries, and a car seat for my son. I was also assisted with grocery vouchers that helped a lot. It was great to know that I could get whatever help and support I needed and if they could not directly help with a need, they were great at finding the right place to get it from.” – Moving Forward client Felicia*.

domestic violence survivors speak

The caseworkers at Moving Forward approach every client with love, acceptance, compassion and care.

"I am not alone. For the first time in 8 months I had a group of people who were there to listen to me and support me. I learnt the vicious cycles of domestic violence, how people get themselves into these situations and that I wasn’t the one to blame for it, as that was told to me constantly. I learnt how to talk to people around me not just about what I had been through but also what I was and wasn’t comfortable talking about (boundaries). I was also supported closely though court dates and my down moments. Lastly I have learnt to put myself first, I learnt to take time out for myself, was given ideas of ‘me time’ activities and I have learnt to control my hypervigilance which increased my anxiety and caused me severe exhaustion.” – Moving Forward client Maryanne*.

How does a Community Grant help domestic violence survivors?

“For the past eight years the Sisters of Charity Foundation has supported our organisation with an annual grant of $10k,” says Moving Forward Manager Jan Christie. “Every year we purchase grocery vouchers to distribute to the women and children we support.

“We have found if they are able to financially support themselves and their family they are less inclined to stay or go back to an abusive relationship.”

Domestic violence survivors

“We decided that Moving Forward is going to be full of love and acceptance and compassion and care. When you come here you come into the fold and you stay as long as you want.” – Manager Jan Christie

“We’ve had quite a few vouchers over time,” says mum-of-five Jessica*. “I have a lot of kids to feed! Without the vouchers we would not have had anything to eat many weeks so we’re very grateful.”

“My caseworker offered me a grocery voucher and I was like – oh my goodness, I can’t believe it!” says Evie*, a Moving Forward client for just over two years. “It was like a godsend. I was wondering how I was going to buy food over Christmas and that was the best present ever. I’ll never forget that.”

Gaining an insight into domestic violence

Foundation staff and supporters sat down with Moving Forward’s staff and clients for lunch, and spoke with domestic violence survivors who were ready to share their stories.

“It’s hard to leave a relationship after so many years when you’ve got five kids. Where are you going to go? You’ve got no job, you’ve got nothing left because they’ve stripped you of every bit of dignity,” says Jessica. “So you stay.

"You start to feel crazy because you put up with it for so long. ”

domestic violence survivors

“I’ve got four girls and one son. I started doing a bookkeeping course so when I finish I can go get a job. They got a grant to get me a little laptop and programs and paper and paid for the course. They’ve been so supportive. I love it. It’s getting the old brain ticking again. I like that I can make plans – we make our own rules now.” – Jessica, Moving Forward client

Nerida* left her abusive ex when her baby daughter was just five weeks old. She struggled to deal with feelings of shame until a Moving Forward workshop changed her view. “The most important thing I learned is that it’s not our fault. I was always second guessing myself, there was a lot of self-blame, thinking if I did something different maybe this wouldn’t have happened,” she explains.

“The shame factor is huge,” Jan confirms. “No matter how much we educate the community about domestic violence, that internalised shame is with every single woman. It’s deeper than embarrassment, it’s deeper than humiliation – it’s internalised self-hatred.”

“We’re grateful to gain this deeply personal insight,” says Sisters of Charity Foundation supporter Richard Haddock. “Although we’ve had regular updates from Moving Forward over the years, there’s nothing quite like hearing directly from someone your donation has helped. For me it reinforces why we do what we do."

domestic violence survivors

“I know there’s still a long road ahead but I feel a lot safer knowing I have this support behind me. What I went through was so isolating, there was a lack of understanding from the majority of society. But you find the strength to open up.” – Carole, Moving Forward client

The Sisters of Charity Foundation is supporting domestic violence survivors

Our Community Grants program helps fund programs that help those experiencing domestic violence escape unsafe situations and start a new life.

Right now, we know that many small organisations working in the domestic violence space are facing unprecedented demand for their services – without the resources they need. The Sisters of Charity Foundation is working to get desperately needed funds to the front lines as fast as possible.

But we can’t do it without your help. Please donate now.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

 

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