Calling out for help

What it’s like in refuge

Women’s Health West provides shelter for women and their children escaping family violence when it’s not safe for them to live in their own home. These are the words of Joyce who stayed with us recently.

It was a blessing to be in the hands of such a loving, caring, courageous, compassionate, respectful, understanding organisation. From my point of view, they are in an important role of empowering both women and children who have been living in family violence. It is an individual woman’s responsibility to call out for help once they have experienced some form of violence because it is not acceptable to live in violence.

I went through a tough experience. I had no one to talk to about the violence I was living under, and most of the time I just wished I could reverse time and have no husband. I even thought people could just see through me and know that I was having serious trouble. I was afraid of everything. The moment I realised that my self-esteem was under my feet was the worst pain ever and it used to kill me inside when I look at my children.

One day when my ex-husband was at work, I got on the computer and googled to find somewhere to get help. The organisation called In-Touch came up and I called them instantly. I did not know where to start or even how to describe my problems, but they really had that sensitivity and they referred me to Women’s Health West.

I have no words to explain Women’s Health West now because I am settled, overjoyed and focused. I am a healthy mum and grandmother. Their assistance makes me feel like they are family. I was so scared at first when they said that I was going to live in refuge but when I got there, it felt so safe compared to living with an abusive partner. I got financial assistance, help getting a peaceful and secure place; they even partly assisted with the rent.

It was such an experience to live in one place with other women and children affected by violence. Life was made a bit easier in terms of security given the set up of the place. The rules and regulations of staying in the refuge are about human tolerance and somehow it does not make one feel like a prisoner of thoughts.

I underwent [legal] proceedings that were scary because it was my first time, but these had to be dealt with for me and my children’s safety. In all this Women’s Health West was my guardian. They helped me with every detail, were with me in court and through the whole process of all intervention orders.

The most inspiring aspect was the way victims of violence, or women in my experience, are being handled. A lawyer was available with no charge. It is indeed a mind relieving situation to be under such a compassionate set up. It was my first experience in court but I had all the emotional support all the way.

With all my heart I appreciate and cherish their good work, and I trust their level of confidentiality. It’s like they really know how to treat a human being. Good on them; it’s a great challenging task to deal with different heart broken and affected women and children.