“The Refuge helped protect me and helped me protect my children."

Karen came to our Domestic and Family Violence Refuge with her five children, aged from three to 13.

Karen’s husband became abusive soon after the birth of their first child. The violence escalated throughout their relationship. She was physically assaulted and beaten.

It was difficult to seek help or escape the violence because her husband isolated Karen from friends and controlled their finances. If she left home, she faced having no money or place to live.

In fact, domestic or family violence against women is the single largest driver of homelessness for women in Australia.

Years of regular abuse had a severe long-term impact on the family. Karen had scars from the beatings and experienced prolonged sadness, fatigue, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and difficulty sleeping. Her own suffering made it hard for Karen to meet her children’s emotional needs.

Her eldest daughter was often physically assaulted to the point of feeling suicidal. She suffered from physical scars, disturbed sleep and constant fear. The other children experienced learning and developmental challenges.

yourtown's Domestic and Family Violence Refuge

Karen made the courageous decision to seek help. The family escaped from her abusive husband and stayed for 12 weeks in yourtown’s Domestic and Family Violence Refuge, where the children felt safe for the first time in their life.

Karen was given support with things like school enrolment, managing finances, physical and mental health and legal advice.

The family received specialised face-to-face counselling and 24/7 access to Kids Helpline. They also attended workshops dealing with issues like trauma, domestic and family violence, and healthy relationships.

Life after the Refuge

At the end of their stay, Karen and her family were resettled into safe housing. They received outreach from yourtown to ensure wrap around support continued.

As a result of their time at the Refuge, their fear and anxiety were reduced, the children had more confidence in their mum and they started to share their feelings with her. Now Karen could listen without shutting down or withdrawing, and she was able to supervise her children more effectively.

Karen said, “When I came to the Refuge I still kept hearing my husband yelling at me and I couldn’t sleep. We were all scared he would find us.

“What helped me the most was knowing there was a community of people to talk to when I felt worried. They understood my fears and didn’t judge me when I thought I was going crazy."

“The children enjoyed the counselling”

"The workshops helped a lot too. The children enjoyed their counselling.  I would see them leaving to go to counselling sad, but they always seemed to come back feeling happier and always looked forward to their sessions. I am also very grateful for the help with the legal support…”

“We felt part of an extended family”

"The staff helped me find a new house. They filled it with furniture and helped make it feel like a home. We felt part of an extended family. We are all sleeping better, the nightmares have stopped…”

“The Refuge helped protect me and helped me protect my children."

Please donate now and give hope to families affected by domestic and family violence.

* Name and image changed for privacy reasons

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