At a time where women are returning to violent relationships due to lack of housing, you can help us walk them to a safer home.
Brigit* fled her husband, who had abused her physically, financially, and psychologically for many years, after he turned on his children including two whom required significant care due to disability.
“I was overwhelmed. I was just finished with the relationship. I had had enough, and I wanted out. My husband started telling the kids terrible things like he was going to kill himself. And I was concerned for their safety,” said Brigit.
“He had hurt me before and he had to do anger management programs. He just went back to his old ways. I suddenly realised he was never going to change.”
When faced with adversity there’s a point where one can’t take anymore. It’s something we witness often. We call it the breaking point.
When our team met Brigit, her situation was dire. She’d fled her home without a car with her three children - aged between three and thirteen. They were now homeless with a violent man searching for them despite an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).
Brigit’s carer’s payment didn’t get far as she desperately sought accommodation.
“At home, I pretty much paid for everything. My husband saved his money and refused to pay bills. I had no one else to help me. It was emotionally draining. I was finding out I just couldn’t cope. Then I found BaptistCare HopeStreet,” said Brigit.
Our BaptistCare HopeStreet team came beside Brigit and her children and provided emergency food support and assisted them with gaining temporary accommodation, while supporting Brigit in her search for permanent housing.
Brigit’s caseworker, Josephine, was able to lend support in many ways from communicating with Centrelink, NDIS, and the Department of Education, to organising school bags, in-school counselling, and assisted with transport to and from school.
There were also legal aid applications, and submissions for crisis payments for victims of crime and counselling for Brigit.
“With BaptistCare HopeStreet, it felt like I had someone in my corner. Josephine is amazing, she’s so good at what she does. I was really grateful because I wouldn’t have known what to do without her,” said Brigit.
For Josephine, the priority was to get the children settled as soon as possible. It wasn’t easy. At the same time Brigit and her children were experiencing homelessness, the ABC published a news article reporting as many as 7,700 women were returning to violent partners, and 9,120 women were being forced into homelessness every year due to a chronic shortage of affordable housing1.
Women’s refuges and emergency short-term accommodation were at capacity. Brigit took part in a government program where they were allocated a one bed hotel room for two nights.
For six weeks, the family moved every three days to another hotel in a different location. The children were so unsettled. Josephine called on her contacts for a one-bedroom placement in a refuge.
“The children are the most beautiful, well-mannered, respectful children. Brigit is such an amazing mum. I found her to be really tenacious, and humble. Very rarely did she cry – but when she was weak, she broke me,” said Josephine.
“To gain government housing, Brigit was expected – with no car, living in a refuge and three children, two that required 24-hour care – to go out and look at rentals. Add to that the trauma of being abused, Brigit was living day to day. I knew she was exhausted, but we got there,” said Josephine.
After five months experiencing homelessness, Brigit and her children are now secure in their permanent four-bedroom house. Life is now starting to resemble some sense of safety and normalcy as Brigit focuses on making a happy and safe home.
“Where I am I feel safe at the moment. I don’t think I’ve thought about how far I’ve come – I’ve just been too busy. The kids seem to be doing well getting back into the routine of school and care, although my youngest gets really bad anxiety - she literally makes herself sick - I’m hoping it’s settling down,” said Brigit.
Josephine can see Brigit has her energy back. “To see her now, she is all smiles and she is just light.”
Brigit told us that when she was still with her husband, she would wake up and he would just have to say one thing to her, and she would feel her body start trembling.
No one should live like that.
“I couldn’t do it anymore. There comes a breaking point, and you realise you can’t do it anymore,” said Brigit.
We believe every woman, man and child has a right to a safe, happy home. We need your help to continue to support women like Brigit with pathways that allow them to regain their independence and have choices in their lives.