Last year alone, 79 women were killed as a result of domestic violence in Australia. Daisy was close to being another devastating statistic before Vinnies intervened.
“This is not how I pictured my life,” Daisy explains as her voice starts to break.
“If it were not for this service, I would be on the streets. Alone.” She continues, struggling to speak while keeping the tears at bay.
Daisy then pauses in thought and makes a remark so casually, you could almost miss its devastating significance, “Actually, I’d be dead.”
Daisy lives in one of Vinnies’ refuges for women which supports women between the ages of 45 and 60 who have escaped domestic violence.
Instead of planning their retirement, playing with their grandchildren and daydreaming about growing old with their partners, these women are trying to rebuild their lives
Daisy was brought up in South Africa with strong family values. About 20 years ago she moved to Australia with her then husband and two young sons.
She recalls her 20 year marriage as being a happy relationship although tempered by flare ups, which for the most part, to her at least, seemed to vaguely fall between the boundaries of ‘for better or worse’.
“Family has always meant a lot to me. There has been a lot of heartache in our family so I stayed for them. My son was diagnosed with cancer and my other son was going through counselling because he was hurting himself. I felt that regardless of what happened to me, I had to stay.”
Daisy skims over the gritty details about what used to happen to her, but in a way, the pain of her ordeal is etched across her face making it almost too difficult to look at her.
Daisy’s next revelation makes things no easier.
“One day when I was living in my ex's garage, he bashed me up so badly I had to go to hospital.”
I lived in my car for a few days. That was a real eye opener because I saw other women sleeping in the park and on the street. I knew the that I had to get myself out of that situation and seek help.”
With this new found determination Daisy moved into the service six months later. She shares the house with two other women who have their own harrowing stories to tell.
The women are offered up to two years subsidised accommodation to give them time to heal and find permanent housing. Supported by an Outreach Case Worker and with access to other community services, the women can lead safe and independent lives.
Daisy doesn’t know what the future will bring but is determined that, more than anything, she just wants things to be better.
When asked what the Vinnies service meant to her she said, “It gave me the best sleep of my life. The first night I came here was the first night I slept in peace. It was the first time I felt free of fear in a long time.”
“This place is a blessing. When I came here, it felt like everything started to fall into place,” she added.
Daisy’s story is similar to thousands of women and children who have been forced into homelessness to escape a life of domestic violence. Luckily, Vinnies provides vital support and accommodation services to help women just like Daisy rebuild their lives. But they can't do the work alone, they need the support of the entire community to continue the life-changing work.
Women and girls make up 59 per cent of people turning to homelessness services. And the fastest growing cohort experiencing homelessness is women over 55
On Thursday 23 June WYZA's CEO Michael Farley and executives David Cheok and Pernille Aggerholm will be spending a night in the cold as part of the 2016 Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
Michael says, “We will experience for one night what is a daily reality for over 105,000 Australians. Our experience however will come without the despair, sadness, violence and isolation, things that are often tied to the experience of homelessness. We would be grateful for any donation you can make in support of our participation – all donations will support Vinnies homelessness services.”