Why domestic and family violence needs long-term thinking

May marks the annual commemoration of those who have died or suffered at the hands of domestic and family violence (DFV). We have been so inspired by the way DFV has finally gained public attention through brave survivors sharing their stories with the world.

Then why are we still talking about it?

The public support generated by this heightened awareness goes almost exclusively to short-term crisis interventions. While these actions are incredibly important, the harder, medium- to long-term needs often get neglected.

People exiting violent homes have individual, complex and varying needs that require sustained, expert, trusted support and guidance. In our considerable experience, for example, victims of DFV often:

  • have no tenancy or financial records in their own name, which makes house hunting impossible;
  • have no form of photo ID, which makes Centrelink claims problematic;
  • suffer from PTSD, which makes finding and coordinating the multiple services they need feel insurmountable;
  • have interrupted (or no record of) employment, which makes the task of finding an income seem overwhelming;
  • lack confidence or capacity to manage finances, due to never having had money of their own;
  • have complex medical and psychological injuries that require specialist health services;
  • are ill-equipped to navigate the legal minefield of our justice systems to secure their safety; and
  • face the added difficulty of having a disability (sometimes caused at the hand of their partner).

Here at YWCA, we receive many generous donations – household goods, offers of personal and professional assistance, clothes, toiletries. And these truly make a difference in the day-to-day lives of the women we assist, and are always greatly appreciated. However, this month we are making a single request: cash. (Please keep reading!)

Before we can accept donations of bath towels, we need to help women find a place to live. Before we can accept your offer to help women write their CV, we need to make sure victims are addressing the barriers that prevent them from working. Many victims of violence are victims of trauma, and it takes years of consistent, professional support to rebuild their lives.

About Y Hand Up

Our unique program Y Hand Up provides practical measures to support women in rebuilding their lives after escaping from DFV. With a focus on reducing pressure on high-cost crisis services, Y Hand Up is a mechanism that connects women and children in need with safe housing, appropriate services and practical support to establish a new, sustainable life. Our ultimate goal is to interrupting the cycle of victims returning to the perpetrator due to a lack of practical and social supports. Statistics show that women often return to their violent relationships eight times before finally leaving for good. Life without access to money, housing or emotional support is insurmountably difficult.

How can you help?

When we tell these stories, the first response is always 'how can I help?' It is heartwarming to hear these questions, and the simple answer is this: by donating cold, hard cash.

We need to pay professionals and set women up in a way that is sustainable and doesn't require a helping hand for the rest of their lives. It’s not as glamorous as hosting a cocktail fundraiser or as cheap as volunteering an hour of your time, but it’s what we need. Funds will go towards what is often forgotten: the wages of qualified support workers to navigate and secure appropriate supports, build confidence and capacity and put in place the stepping stones to independent living and the ability to manage their own lives.

Thank you for hearing our call for help at the start of our nation’s DFV Prevention Month. To support our work in this way, please click on Donate Now below and forward this to a friend or two. Next edition we will return to our usual format, so stay tuned