The following content may be disturbing for victims and survivors of violence and trauma. We encourage you to use your discretion as to whether you should continue reading. You can also seek support from Safe Steps (Women’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Crisis Service phone 1800 015 188) or visit here for a list of after-hours support numbers.
Today, Lauren is a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur and she and her daughter Poppy are living in a new home. Nearly four years ago the pair were facing a very different and dangerous situation.
When Poppy was a toddler Lauren realised that her volatile and aggressive relationship with her partner was “too unhealthy” and she needed to take steps to protect her daughter.
To make matters worse, Lauren’s mother had just been diagnosed with end-stage cancer and was in palliative care with just months to live. Lauren found herself sleeping in hospital wards while trying to care for her mother and young child, all the while worrying about the unpredictable and dangerous behaviour of her ex partner. “I was extremely close to my mum, who was a very gentle person and a great listener, so this was a very difficult time,” she says.
Although she is part of a large family, Lauren felt isolated, with no wider supports to draw on. Her family did not believe her situation and did not have the capacity to assist her. So Lauren turned to Windermere Child & Family Services.
A Windermere counsellor supported Lauren as she faced many of her challenges. To address safety concerns, Lauren applied to the family court for custody of Poppy. This included asking the court to grant an Intervention Order and ensure supervised access visits only by her former partner. “The court process was very intimidating, I didn’t know the system at all and had no money to pay lawyers, so I don’t know what I would have done without Windermere,” says Lauren.
Part of her healing process involved Lauren acknowledging the trauma in her childhood of her teenage brother passing away after a violent assault. She also attended a parenting course and a healthy relationship support group run by Windermere.
Lauren also applied for a grant to start a cake-making business. At around the same time, she began to study a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education. “I wanted to be with my daughter and I thought working in childcare might be one way to do this,” she says.
With ongoing issues with her rental property, Lauren also found a safer and more appropriate rental. Gradually Lauren’s financial situation improved. She started to work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. As well as her new cake business, her former employer offered her part-time work and she also began assisting her nephew with his roofing business.
Slowly, Lauren saved enough money to buy her own car. This was critical as she had no means of private transport. Slowly she also enacted an ambitious plan to buy her own home. After careful research and painstaking savings, she bought land and began to build.
Today Lauren and her daughter are living in a brand new home of their own. She’s even been in a position to offer a safe home to one of her nephews who needed short term accommodation and care.
She says she hopes other individuals in the same situation as her can take inspiration to never give up to change your situation and “work for what you want.”
Windermere offers confidential counselling and intensive homelessness support services for families and individuals experiencing sexual assault and family violence.
For more information:
Call: 1300 946 337
If you need urgent help
Safe Steps (Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service)
24-hour telephone crisis counselling, information, referral and support for women experiencing domestic violence.
Phone 1800 015 188
24 hour counselling and support service for people impacted by sexual assault or family violence.
Phone 1800 737 732
** If you are concerned for yours or someone else’s immediate safety call 000.**
Visit here for a range of after hours support services here.