Imagine how it feels to tell your children why you are covered in bruises. Imagine trying to put on a brave face when your bones are broken and your confidence is shattered.
Even when a woman escapes a violent home, she is not safe.
We desperately need your help to protect families escaping domestic violence.
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Lauren could never have imagined how her life would turn out when she and Nate first got together. The relationship was great for the first couple of years. Things only began to change when Lauren was pregnant with their first child. “It was small things at first,” she describes. “He would get really frustrated, raising his voice and wanting to know where I was all the time.”
After Lauren had her second child, a boy, a couple of years later, the frustrations turned into outbursts. Sometimes Nate would be loving. At other times he would smash things – plates, his phone – whatever was in reach. Sometimes he would apologise. But often he would blame Lauren for his outbursts. “He would put it back on to me – that he was in a mood because I had said or done something wrong,” Lauren describes. “I would be the one to fix it because it was my fault.” She started to question her sense of reality.
Trying to keep Nate happy, Lauren gradually stopped seeing her friends. “I got to the point where I didn’t have friends anymore. My family were only allowed over if he said yes, and it could only be for a certain amount of time.”
Nate took control of their money, only leaving Lauren a tiny amount to cover expenses for her and the children. Lauren’s isolation, lack of money and fear of homelessness kept her and the children trapped.
One day the Department of Child Safety and the police knocked on the door. Nate’s niece had filed a complaint with the police against him for assaulting her. Nate was told to leave.
After Child Safety advised her to take out a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) and say no to children’s visits, Nate started to threaten and harass Lauren.
Before he ran off, Nate kicked her, breaking her arm and telling her: If I see you again, you’ll be dead. No more games.
Child Safety put Lauren in touch with Hearts of Purple, a volunteer-run charity that assists survivors of domestic violence. Hearts of Purple gave Lauren a duress alarm watch – one of dozens that the Sisters of Charity Foundation has helped them purchase.
The watches are given to clients at high risk of being killed.
She knew she and the kids needed to disappear. Lauren was with her nephew packing the last of her belongings. She said goodbye to her nephew and put the last three boxes in her car.
Out of nowhere Nate attacked her, knocking her down and sitting on her chest. Lauren activated the watch, setting off an ear-splitting siren while also notifying police.
Lauren ran into the bedroom and locked the door. She used the two-way function on the watch to call for an ambulance and alert Hearts of Purple. The watch had saved her life.
Lauren tried to shield her children from what had happened, but she couldn’t hide her bruises or the fact that her arm was in plaster. “The questions were coming out,” she said. “The kids wouldn’t leave my side. They slept in my bed for a couple of nights. My nine-year-old son told me: “I’m going to protect you mum.”
Hearts of Purple found accommodation for Lauren and the children in a new city, six hours away. “The new place had a washing machine, a fridge and a lounge when we arrived,” she describes. “There was a food package from another charity, gifts for the children and lots of little things like shampoo and body wash that make you feel at home.”
Since her escape, things are better for Lauren. She recently got a promotion at work. The kids are excelling at school. Her son, who had previously struggled to learn, now comes home with academic awards. Lauren says the support she received after the horrific attack meant the world to her.
Escaping domestic violence
We have a serious domestic violence problem in Australia. Even when a woman escapes a violent home, she is not safe. The period immediately after separation can be the most dangerous. Almost every week in this country, a woman is killed by a current or former partner.
Image source: WA Department of Communities
How does the Sisters of Charity Foundation help families escaping domestic violence?
Through its Community Grants Program the Sisters of Charity Foundation helps fund small charities across Australia that support women and children escaping domestic violence.
The Foundation has provided $20,000 in grants to Hearts of Purple to purchase lifesaving duress alarm watches. We’ve also given a further $45,000 in the past financial year to domestic violence organisations the LIVEfree Project, The Haven: Nepean Women’s Shelter Inc, House to Grow Ltd, You Matter Ltd, and Moving Forward DFV Case Management Services Inc.
We need your help so families like Lauren’s can escape to safety and rebuild their lives. You may even help save a life – please, donate now.
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