2015-2016 IMPACT REPORT
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Keeping women and children safe while holding domestic violence perpetrators accountable is a balancing act that YFS Client Service Manager, Sarah oversees every day across YFS.
Sarah leads the YFS domestic violence team, including the men’s perpetrator program and a women’s advocate service.
Sarah explains the service connects with women who are partners or ex-partners and have experienced the violence of the men who are in the group. It provides an opportunity for women to receive support that is separate to the men’s time in the group.
“It enables the initial and ongoing assessment of women and children’s safety through assessing risk factors and what’s going on in their lives,” Sarah said.
“It’s about providing them with information, referral and support if they need to access other services in the community,” she said.
Sarah says the case of Deb* and her former partner Paul* is typical of YFS’ work.
When Paul* joined YFS’ Responsible Men program, he only acknowledged physical violence, admitting he once hit Deb*.
However, as the YFS women’s advocate supported Deb* a more complex story emerged.
Through the women’s advocate, Deb* revealed how little by little, Paul* started taking control of her life.
During the four year relationship, Paul* had not only been physically abusive; he was also managing the finances, controlling who she would see and threatening her at all time.
YFS supported Deb* to apply for a protection order with standard conditions and to move out with her children.
Sarah says that when a woman is planning to leave or has left the relationship, she and the children are most at risk, so moving out doesn’t mean she is no longer at risk.
Paul*started calling and asking her to help him with his children, using them to try to control her again. Paul* also seemed to know where Deb* was and would turn up unexpectedly at places Deb* visited.
Deb* made an urgent application to amend the court order adding ‘a no contact’ condition to it. Ten weeks into the perpetrator’s program, Paul* acknowledged how much he had learned about the different types of violence in his own behaviour and admitted it was abusive.
Although not a cure, the intervention helped give Paul* insight to his behaviours. He stopped stalking Deb*; he didn’t contact her again. She hasn’t heard from him for quite a while.
Sarah says every woman’s service is tailored to her needs.
“That could be a fortnightly call or it could be every day, to revisit her safety and her children’s. We maintain contact with the woman for as long as she wants us to remain in contact.”
“Everything links back to her safety. We offer services that will support them as a family, and across YFS we do many things in response to domestic violence.
We are dedicated to provide a service that holds men accountable and keeps women and children safe. This could be the very first time a woman has accessed a service or it could also be the last,” Sarah said.
*Names changed for privacy