Leaving domestic violence often means entering poverty

LACK OF SUPPORT: Services which deal with victims of domestic and family violence are under resourced, according to Baptist Care's Joy Shotter.
LACK OF SUPPORT: Services which deal with victims of domestic and family violence are under resourced, according to Baptist Care's Joy Shotter.

THE one thing most people don’t understand about domestic and family violence is why it’s so difficult to leave, says Lee*, a domestic violence survivor. 

“It’s very hard to explain,” the 47-year-old Windale resident said. 

“It’s entrapment, not just emotionally because you are in love with that person, but financially.

“They get you in a place where you can’t leave, you’ve got nowhere to go. They isolate you from your family and your friends. 

“You just stay. What is your other choice? To be on the street, to be homeless? “

In 2014 Lee thought she had met the man of her dreams. 

“He was so sweet, a fantastic job, dressed beautifully,” she said. “I thought I was looking at the dream ... marriage.” 

But then the violence began. 

“In summer time, I would have to wear long sleeves to cover my bruises, and lots of make-up” she said. 

“It was financial, verbal and terrible psychical violence.”

Lee sustained two broken eye sockets, damaged nasal passages and countless bruises. 

One of the tactics her former partner used was to say things which would eat into her self esteem. 

“He’d say things like ‘I wish you had brown eyes instead of blue, I wish your hair was a different colour; your clothes look ridiculous’,” she said.

“It got to the point I was so low, I had always been a confident woman.

“This man just knew how to get me … I was being manipulated every single day.”

About 12 months ago, Lee was subjected to the final attack from her former-partner. 

“I was in the shower getting ready for work,” Lee said. “He just grabbed the back of my head and went ‘bang’ into the shower recess.” 

The attack was with such force it cracked her teeth. That night she fled the home they had shared.

With the assistance of Nova for Women and Children she was given temporary accommodation, before transitioning into long-term accommodation.

Lee is a regular at Baptist Care’s Hope Street, Windale, where Joy Shotter is the chaplain.

Ms Shotter said support for domestic and family violence was under resourced. 

“There is no where near enough support,” Ms Shotter said. “We are seeing more and more victims of domestic and family violence.

“The agencies that are there are already flat out.

“By the time they make the choice to leave, they are making a very brave choice.

“Often this choice leads to homelessness or poverty.”

*The Star chose not to use Lee’s full name