Mamamia has partnered with Commonwealth Bank on a new campaign - Lighting the Way to the Next Chapter - which aims to empower the community to listen and believe victims of domestic and family violence, and be a part of paving a hopeful future.
"I'm so afraid, and I'm not sure what to do."
It takes an average of seven attempts for people - and in most cases, women - to leave a domestic abuse situation for good.
The reasons are deeply complex. They often involve emotional abuse, coercive control and intimidation. In many cases, the practicalities of leaving with children, with little money, or without a home to go to, can further complicate the situation.
After leaving, these issues can have a ripple effect on a person's life for years to come. From the emotional recovery to rebuilding a safe home to becoming financially independent, none of it has to be done alone.
As a community, we can do better. We can listen. We can believe. We can educate ourselves better on how to help domestic violence victim-survivors leave, survive, thrive and live fulfilling lives.
There are many excellent Australian organisations that cover every step of the process, from counselling to finding emergency accommodation to achieving financial independence.
In 2020, organisations like these have saved lives, especially during times of heightened tension like the second lockdown in Victoria. In fact, Domestic Violence Victoria recorded an increase in first-time reporters of family violence during this time.
We have collected some of the most helpful, reliable and discrete resources and organisations to reach out to if you or someone you know is ever in need, whether in lockdown or not. You can always get help.
Call 000 in an emergency, and Lifeline on 131 114 for immediate mental health support.
1. 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
Leaving an abusive relationship can be a confusing, stressful and upsetting time – which is why dedicated domestic violence services that can objectively listen to your circumstances are invaluable.
1800 RESPECT is the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service, and an excellent resource for processing issues and seeking answers. It is totally confidential, and open 24 hours via telephone or online. All services are accessible to people who may have English as a second language (call 13 14 50 to book an interpreter), and any Australian living with a disability.
The website contains useful, practical information for anyone wanting to leave a relationship, such as an escape bag checklist and a nationwide service directory that you can search by postcode. If you're looking for somewhere to start, their safety planning checklist is simple and useful.
2. Short and long-term accommodation.
Securing a place to stay can be one of the most stressful aspects of trying to leave.
Centrelink can help with rent assistance, and the government also provides resources for safe emergency, and short-term, housing. For example, in NSW, the Department of Communities and Justice has a webpage dedicated to accommodation in situations of domestic violence.