Debbie (not her real name) fled her home, terrified for her life and found a refuge with the Lisa Harnum Foundation in the Hills.’
She says she literally had nowhere to go when she found a safe haven for herself and her three children at the LHF transitional housing. They stayed for nearly 11 months.
She told her story to the Hills to Hawkesbury News this month after hearing that the LHF house, which was in danger of closing, had been saved by an anonymous benefactor.
“I don’t know if I would have survived the ordeal without their (LHF) help. They gave us practical help. To have a safe home is crucial. Things escalate if you don’t get out straight away. Even if you have a full time job, finding rental places is hard.”
She said she fled the family home at the end of 2017. “I was in a relationship for nearly 12 years. I was only two years into my marriage when the abuse occurred.”
The couple were introduced by her cousin who was a colleague and they corresponded for a long time. She was living overseas and gave up her job to move to Australia. They were married in 2005.
“Looking back now there were so many red flags..alcohol was the major issue.”
Debbie had a 5-year-old from her first marriage and the couple went on to have to have two children together.
“He was psychologically and emotionally very controlling. In 2013 his anger just escalated. He would say I was stupid and I was always making excuses for him.” She said she became really scared and started seeing a counsellor. “One Monday night he threatened to kill all of us and I left. I want to my friend’s house in Baulkham Hills and rang the police that night. Someone had just left (the LHF house) so a spot had become available.”
She said remaining in the area was not just important for her but for her children as well.
“I wanted to continue to kid’s routine so that they could go to their school. Feeling secure was so important. I was working full time but there were so many other expenses while we ere trying to rearrange our lives. I had support and was able to talk to a lawyer and organise somewhere to rent. If help hadn’t been there I would have just gone through the cycle again. The feeling that there is a place for you while you sort yourself out is so important. One of the women I shared with was suicidal when she arrived at the house but now she has her own apartment for herself and her two children and is completing her MBA.”
“If we hadn’t had safe housing we would have had a different story.”
If you need help call LHF on 1300 732 848 or lisahf.org.au