Last Wednesday night I saw something amazing, some powerful, something beautiful, something that gave me hope. I saw a collective of positive,uplifting, like-minded women come together for a purpose greater than themselves.
This collective of awesome women came together to serve other women in need; to make the world a little brighter for women who are starting their lives again after escaping domestic violence.
The gathering took place at Surry Hill’s Bishop Sessa restaurant, where the roomful of women listened to author, Helen Cummings, share her personal story of domestic violence and showed their support by bringing suitcases full of clothes and toys for women and children seeking refuge at Sydney’s Marian Centre.
Helen was especially giving, pushing through her raw vulnerability and emotion to make sure all that attended understood her messages: that domestic violence is absolutely unacceptable and not the victims fault; about behavioural signs women must look for that may indicate a person could become emotionally and/or physically abusive; and the horrific effect that domestic violence has on women and their children.
In true ‘sistahood’ style, Samantha Sutherland, from The Everyday Adventure, and I partnered up to run this special event. If you have been following The Sista Code for a while, you know that I am passionate about women being kinder to themselves, kinder to other women and banding together to support women and children in need.
And there is an enormous need in Australia to help women escaping domestic violence,especially with their children. This year so far, 34 women in Australia have been killed, with two-thirds of those killed by their partners or ex-partners (www.abc.net.au).
The NSW Government’s shift in focus from supporting women escaping domestic violence to all types of ‘homelessness’ has seen a multitude of refuges close leaving abused women fewer and fewer options of escape.
During the Sydney event, Kathleen from Sydney Vinnies, which runs a number of women’s refuges in Sydney, explained to us how traumatic it is for the women and children seeking shelter after fleeing domestic violence and the often long-term effects for the children. Also, items such as toiletries that one woman make see as a necessity may actually be a luxury to a women in a refuge.
When asked by the women at the event how they could further help, Kathleen explained that abused women and children often feel displaced in society, that they no longer fit into the community. One small thing that really makes a difference is for the children to get and out and participate in community activities, such as going to sporting events: experiences that are fun and make them feel ‘normal.’
So one way we can help is by donating tickets to community or sporting events.
When a woman leaves a violent partner, she often does so with nothing but the clothes on her back…and the same for her children. She must literally start again with nothing.
4 WAYS YOU CAN HELP A WOMAN ESCAPING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE START AGAIN
Chances are there is a women’s refuge in your area that you can support.
You can help by:
1. Donating good quality second-hand or new clothing linen, towels, toiletries and other home and personal items to your local women’s refuge.
2. Providing vouchers, such as Coles/Myer voucher, for food. Yes it is wonderful to donate food items, but it is more empowering for a woman to be able to select and buy her own food for herself and children.
3. Instead of selling your second hand furniture on eBay or donating to a charity that will just on-sell the goods, touch base with your local refuge and see if there is a woman that is making the move out of the refuge into her own rental home. Again, she most likely will have nothing and a donated bed or lounge may help her considerably.
4. Providing vouchers for services and ‘normal’ experiences such as hair cuts and local community events.
You will be helping another sista and her children to start again – a new beginning, a new life!
Thank you to all the awesome sistas who came to our very first Sydney event. Your kindness, generosity and commitment to helping other women was heartening and reinforced to me that if we women collectively band together for the greater good, we can make positive change in the world for others.
A big thank you to our event table sponsor Eight Recruitment – you’re commitment to supporting women in need is so appreciated!
THE SISTA CODE SUPPER CLUB
The Sista Club Supper Club holds events regularly, every few months, and in various locations, locally, nationally and internationally. The events are an opportunity for sistas to have fun, be inspired and make a difference.
If you are interested in us holding a The Sista Code Supper Club event in your area, just let us know! Together we can make a difference!