One in two women being subjected to domestic violence is told the is no refuge available in New South Wales (NSW) I find this really hard to accept on an emotional and practical level. Emotionally I know the strength it took to make the call to 1800 RESPECT it was devastating to finally accept that my life had come to that. I was lucky when I called there was a room available, although it is worth noting that it was daytime mid-week so not exactly rush hour and even so, there were only two beds available in the whole of NSW.

There was a room available for me

I was offered a bed in Delvena. The help and support I received whilst there was the building blocks for the happiness and success that is now part of my everyday life. Ten years on to survive the Government cuts, Delvena is still a specialized domestic violence refuge. But this is not the case for most refuges in NSW, which are now joint homeless and domestic violence shelters. As hard as it is to believe, today, for women and children suffering from domestic violence there are less support and resources available that when I was in Delvena a decade ago.

Scares me to think of the alternative

Knowing the courage that it took for me to make that call. It is scary to think about what would have happened to my children and I if I had been part of the 1 in 2 statistic who were turned away. Would I have found the courage to call again? Or would I have been pulled back into the power and control of my relationship? Would I have become a different statistic? Luckily these are not question I will have to answer, unfortunately this is not the case for the women currently being turned away.

Mary’s House Refuge

This is why when I met Liz form Marys House and she told me about their plans to open a community run refuge on Sydney’s Lower North Shore, I was so inspired. As a survivor of domestic violence  I felt privileged to get on board and donate my time and expertise. Refuges not only save lives they are the place where victims become survivors and the process of rebuilding a life starts. They will house 19 women and children. That’s 19 people that do not get told no we do not have a room for you, but instead will be offered a safe place to stay.

We need action

Over the last two years there has been more talk from government and the media about domestic violence, but this at least in NSW has not resulted in more funds being allocated to front line services. Mary’s House steering committee has seen this need and instead of adding more talk to the debate have taken action in positive life changing way. Domestic violence does not respect socio-econmic boundaries. And it does happen on the lower north shore. I know this because it happened to me.

Mary’s House whose address  is a great place to feel safe and start the healing journey.