Trigger warning: this story includes mentions of family violence and coercive control
Eva* was 27 weeks pregnant, when she should have been excited about the birth of her baby, setting up a nursery and planning a future together. Instead, she was experiencing such terrible intimate partner violence that she wasn’t sure if she’d live long enough to meet her baby.
Eva had never felt safe – especially at home. Her partner regularly assaulted her, both physically and verbally. He kept her away from her friends and family, isolating her from support. He restricted her access to money, so she never felt she could leave. She was so isolated and alone that she struggled to engage with services like the police and didn’t know where to turn.
The only thing Eva knew for sure was she didn’t want her infant son to grow up experiencing the same violence she had. She wanted to be strong and resilient for her son so that he could have a future filled with hope, freedom and happiness.
Eva had dreamed of building a healthy home with her family – a life filled with the love and safety she’d never known as a child. Her childhood had been filled with fear and violence and she’d spent years in and out of care. She wanted a better future for her little boy.
Family violence is a key factor in women and children receiving support from Berry Street
Eva’s experience is not unusual. Family violence is happening all around us every day. One in four women has experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former intimate partner.
Every day, 10 women are hospitalised for injuries resulting from violence by their spouse or partner. Police attend a family violence incident every six minutes in Victoria.
A woman loses her life at the hands of her current or former partner approximately every week of the year.
Mums like Eva are looking for a safe place to raise their children. They’re looking for support and services to help them rebuild their lives. They’re looking for medical care to help them recover from their injuries.
Eva was referred to Berry Street through The Orange Door Network, which provides support for people experiencing family violence in Victoria. Her case manager connected her with the vital services she needed to begin to recover from her trauma. This included specialist therapy, placement in a Victims Assistance Program, and receiving the medical support she needed.
Ollie’s birth was a time of joy rather than fear for Eva
Soon after she was connected with Berry Street, Eva gave birth to Ollie*, a beautiful healthy baby boy with the most wonderful bond with his loving mum. The support Eva received from The Orange Door and Berry Street transformed her life and her sense of safety and hope.
Ollie is growing up free from violence. He has the childhood Eva longed for him. Eva is still receiving support and learning how to care for him.
Every day, more women and children come to us, desperate for help, seeking safety so they and their children can reimagine the future. Donations to Berry Street help support mothers and babies like Eva and Ollie when they need it most. Our incredible donors are helping courageous mums to turn their lives around so they and their children can become strong, resilient and full of hope.
Eva’s story illustrates many of the critical services Berry Street provides. Berry Street supporters help to fund vital services like these, as well as other important work that supports children, young people and families to be safe, thriving and hopeful.
Berry Street is working to create a future where families have the support and tools they need to stay together safely, and children and adults have the chance to recover from violence and trauma. Berry Street's regular donors are helping to make this happen. You can learn more about our regular giving program here or find out about Berry Street's family violence services here.
*Model image used and names have been changed to protect the privacy of the children and young people in our care.