• Steph Stephens

Power of kindness puts client on right track

A couple of weeks ago someone asked me if there had been an increase in a particular cohort of people attending St John’s Care (SJC) since the start of the pandemic. I didn’t have to think for very long as I have seen about a 50% increase in people escaping from domestic violence.

Domestic Violence (DV) is described as a way for a person to gain and maintain total control over another person. This comes in many forms including physical and emotional abuse. Both forms of abuse can be so debilitating for a person, male or female, that they lose all their self-esteem and an ability to function on a day to day basis.

Last week Jenny (not her real name) came to the Centre and spoke with one of the volunteers. She was very shy and kept saying that she shouldn’t be there. “There were other people more deserving than her”, she said.

The volunteer asked if Jenny was ok and she started crying. She explained to the volunteer that she had escaped from an emotionally abusive husband who had left the family home after telling their two young children that he did not want to be their daddy anymore.

Jenny said the two girls were devastated but it was the end of many years of verbal abuse that had just knocked Jenny and the girls down. The ex-partner kept control of all the family money and when he walked out, he emptied the bank account.

Jenny said she just crumpled and didn’t know what to do. The volunteer told me about her whilst all the volunteers on duty that day gathered together bedding (as the ex-partner had taken all of that as well) food, clothes and kitchen utensils. I sat Jenny down and listened to her story.

I connected Jenny with Actew AGL and they were amazing. They told her that the last thing she needed to worry about was paying the bills when she didn’t have any money. They set up another account in her name only and attached a code to that account which enabled other Actew AGL workers to know that she had escaped DV.

Jenny told me that she had a part time job but there was no way she could afford the mortgage on the house. I advised her to contact the bank and ask for some leeway until she could sell the property. I also referred her to Women’s Legal Service for legal advice.

When we went out of the therapy room into the Centre there was a pile of clothes, blankets, food, backpacks, shoes, and other bedding waiting for Jenny. She just looked at the pile and burst into tears again. She said that never in her life did she expect to be in the position she was in. “The amount of kindness she had received from the whole team at St John’s Care was astounding,” she said.

A couple a days later, Jenny phoned SJC and told us that when she got home she realised that the kindness the volunteers and staff had shown her actually managed to change her life and put her on the right track to move forward and not stand still, as she felt she had been doing. She couldn’t thank them enough.

Kind regards,

Steph Stephens

SJC Community Worker

Items required: all cereals including Weet-Bix, tomato sauce (ketchup) dried dates, muesli bars

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