Paula is getting her confidence back with support from the Women’s Advocacy program
“I’ve learnt so much through Kirsty. She’s taught me to be so strong, I feel that I can get through anything.”
Paula* says it was a big weight off her shoulders when YFS’ Senior Women’s Advocate, Kirsty, contacted her to see if she needed support. As part of the Responsible Men program, women’s advocates support victims of violence and abuse to address crisis, and work with other domestic violence specialists to ensure their safety.
Paula had reported her partner’s abuse to police, who made a referral to the Women’s Advocate team. “I’m so grateful that the police gave that referral. I don’t know where I’d be if they didn’t refer me to Kirsty.”
Paula was aware that domestic and family violence support was available but felt overwhelmed and didn’t know where to turn. “There’s so much happening at the same time you don’t know what path to take, and you cannot prioritise things,” she says.
“A lot of people in that situation wouldn’t have the strength to pick up the phone because of the unknown and the fear of judgement. You’re so caught up you don’t know where to start.
“How do you explain things that you don’t even want to talk about or admit to yourself? It’s a bit of a taboo subject. Admitting that brings a lot of shame. It gives you hope if someone calls you to let you know they care about you and they want to help you.”
With Kirsty’s support and encouragement Paula worked through a number of challenges including dealing with Child Safety and the Family Court system, challenges with housing, health issues and her children’s schooling. Paula says she’s now getting her confidence back, “I’ve learnt so much through Kirsty. She’s taught me to be so strong, I feel that I can get through anything.”
“I always had the protective instinct for my children, they are my priority, but I needed to be reminded that I am important as well. I’ve learnt that to look after your children, you’ve got to put energy into looking after yourself.”
Now Paula is using the knowledge that she’s learnt to teach her children about self-belief. “I’m so proud of my children, they’re so strong. I’m teaching them to believe in themselves and that self-love is so important. When you have those, you can do anything.”
*Name and image changed for privacy