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Safe as houses

7 August 2017

Karen (not her real name) is in her 50s and lives in the north-western suburbs of a capital city. Karen’s ex-partner had been making life hell for her and the kids; breaching his intervention order multiple times and harassing her. Before they’d separated he had sexually assaulted her, strangled her and threatened to kill himself, Karen and her children

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Crossways general manager Robyn Roberts, Protective Group representative Stephen Wilson, and Safer in the Home program manager Mariese Davey

Crossways general manager Robyn Roberts, Protective Group representative Stephen Wilson, and Safer in the Home program manager Mariese Davey

Karen (not her real name) is in her 50s and lives in the north-western suburbs of a capital city.

Karen’s ex-partner had been making life hell for her and the kids; breaching his intervention order multiple times and harassing her. Before they’d separated he had sexually assaulted her, strangled her and threatened to kill himself, Karen and her children.

Since separating, he’d thrown dead rats and mice into her garden, repeatedly turned her hot water service off, and driven his car at her in the street.

The Salvation Army and Protective Group intervened in Karen’s life, through the federal government-funded Safer in the Home program*. Sensor lights were installed; the garage remote was re-keyed; and the hot water service and letterbox were locked.  These kinds of steps have given Karen and her children a sense of safety and peace.

Karen’s story is, sadly, not unusual. One woman wrote to the Salvos and Protective group to thank them for the program, saying ‘we have a much safer residence for my family and myself… the safety of my family is paramount, but financially it wouldn't have been possible without your generosity’.

Another woman wrote, saying ‘this service is invaluable to members of the public who have suffered immeasurably, as it is likely to drastically reduce anxiety and stress in victims of domestic violence, while increasing their safety and security. I have not slept so well, nor felt so safe, in many years. My peace of mind has been restored.’

Beyond but including the instances of intimate partner violence, Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) is complex. It is an increasingly recognised and understood area of social need, which includes elder abuse and other misuses and abuses of power.

Situations vary in each and every instances, but a common factor in the various kinds of abuse that occur – physical, emotional and psychological, social,  sexual, spiritual, cultural – is the stalking and harassment behaviours used to intimidate or dominate others.

This coming 1 September will mark the first anniversary since Safer in the Home commenced operations. In that time the program has helped 450 clients and 675 dependents across Australia.

The service extends basic upgrades to women deemed to be at low risk of FDV, who have been referred through the Salvos. This happens through many channels, such as financial counselling or employment services, corps (churches), Salvos Stores, Doorways poverty alleviation, social programs, chaplains etc. The referrals are coming from far and wide, including, but much broader than, the Salvos’ FDV services.
If you are being harassed and fear for your safety or the safety of your children, email: saferinthehome@aus.salvationarmy.org
*Safer in the Home is a similar but separate program from the ‘Safe at Home’ program, which is also conducted by Protective Group. Safer in the Home program provides services to women deemed to be at low risk of incurring family and Domestic Violence (FDV).

The Salvation Army is also one of several brokers of the Safe at Home program. Safe at Home includes a broader suite of security interventions to help protect women (and their children) who are assessed to be at high risk of FDV, through monitoring systems, surveillance cameras, locks etc. It receives recurrent federal funding.
For more information link to
www.sarmy.org.au/en/Social/eConnect/Mission/Safer-in-the-home/