Contemporary Turkish writer and thinker Mehmet Murat ildan wrote that “For stairs to be safe, every step on the stairs has to be safe,” an idea which generates images of sturdy pathways forward and seems an appropriate thought from which to begin this post about safety.
One of the Hobart Women’s Shelter’s (HWS) core values is safety. We prioritise physical and emotional safety in all aspects of our service and create a safe working environment. With this in mind, looking at the safety of both the clients we do and have served, and those we wish to service in the future, we are constantly reviewing our practices and looking at ways in which we can improve our service to ensure we are able to provide physical and emotional safety for women and their children.
Over the last few years, we have noticed that many women are reluctant to remove themselves and their children from situations of violence when there is a loved family pet involved, unless they can assure the safety of the pet. As not doing so may further traumatise children, or place the pet at risk of violence or neglect at the hands of the perpetrator.
It has been noted that for both women and children, moving without their special companions at this time compounds the stress and sense of loss and makes the trauma they are facing in their family life that much more intense. Unfortunately in the past our shelter has been unable to house pets, and the women accessing our services were often unable to afford to pay kennel/cattery fees to provide the care pets need which would have a multitude of benefits – health, mental health, and stability for children whose lives have been turned upside-down by homelessness and family violence.
Fortunately however, we have recently been the recipient of a Community Grant from Huon Aquaculture in order to fund our Pet Protection Project providing us with the funding required to provide kennelling/cattery services for the pets of women escaping from domestic violence.
So as Mehmet Murat ildan wrote “For stairs to be safe, every step on the stairs has to be safe,” I hope that the Pet Protection Program will provide another “safe step” to women and children escaping from domestic violence – by ensuring we are able to create and provide a holistic service in which every step is safe, providing women and children with a safe pathway from crisis to recovery. Please stay tuned for more exciting updates to our service!