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Anglicare WA: Spirit of the Season

Around Christmas time, victims of family and domestic violence will have to be extra courageous in looking after their families

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Anglicare WA: Spirit of the Season

by Philippa Boldy | Director of Services, Anglicare WA

Christmas is an exciting and sometimes high-stress time for families. The school year comes to an end and holiday plans are on the horizon. Time with family, presents and food are planned. The focus of Christmas is on love, joy and peace.

At Anglicare WA we know all too well that for many families in Western Australia, this time comes with exceptional pressures. Our family and domestic violence services are pushed to their limits at this time of year, with women and children seeking support and refuge from violence at home.

Family and domestic violence is an incredibly isolating experience. Women who are survivors of violence in their relationships tell of the overwhelming sense of shame that they experience; that their family home is one of coercion, control and violence rather than the safe and loving space that they want to provide their children. This is particularly true at Christmas time, when happy families come together in the safety of their homes.

Family and Domestic Violence is, shockingly, on the rise in Western Australia. Last year 28 women lost their lives to family and domestic violence in our state. There were more than 3,000 victims of sexual assault and 22,257 people were assaulted in a family and domestic violence situation. In 2020/21, we supported 1,715 people through our family and domestic violence services across the state and another 3,273 children and young people who have been victims of abuse.

Anglicare WA’s programs strive to keep children safe and together with their non-offending parent whilst holding perpetrators to account for their violence, coercion and control. Cycles of Family and Domestic Violence are fed by violence, coercion and control. However, family violence is not just about physical assault – the insidious nature of coercive and controlling behaviour can control a woman’s autonomy and every facet of her life.

Around Christmas time, victims of family and domestic violence will have to be extra courageous in looking after their families:

  • Samantha will be in the Anglicare WA Albany Women’s Centre, where she will have fled after her violent ex-partner is released from jail. She will share this communal living arrangement with three other women and their children, who will all be supported by our Refuge staff.
  • Kaye and her children in Kununurra will be staying with their grandmother again, supported by Anglicare WA’s East Kimberley team whilst she seeks safety; Kaye’s partner will invite his brothers to the family home for an extended drinking session in the lead up to Christmas Day.
  • Roy is completing a Men’s Behaviour Change Program in the Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison with Anglicare WA’s Connect and Respect project, hoping to complete the program and be granted Parole prior to Christmas.
  • Sue and her children in the southern suburbs will be hoping her violent ex-husband does not make contact on Christmas day; she will be relying on the safety plan she has developed with our Recovery After Violence and our Safe with Milli programs, who have supported Sue to install video safety equipment and develop a safety plan.

This Christmas, I encourage you to remember these people and others impacted by family and domestic violence in our communities.

But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23

Published in Messenger December 2021

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