Dialog Box


Five minutes with Lisa, domestic violence survivor

Lisa* led a fairly normal life with a good job and a community of friends.

But her life was turned upside down the day her partner turned violent.

Fearing for her safety, Lisa left her home in Sydney and drove hundreds of kilometres to Melbourne at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But little did she know that her struggles were far from over.

We sat down with Lisa to talk about her story, and to raise awareness for people of all ages and genders who are affected by domestic violence.

Can you tell us a bit about your story and your experience with domestic violence? 

“I landed down here in Melbourne three years ago, due to a severe domestic violence situation in Sydney.

I was in a relationship for 12 years. [Domestic violence] had never been demonstrated before... a voice being raised… it had never been exhibited in my home.

But this one time, he broke my shoulder and I decided to move out the next morning. I wasn't waiting around for anything. I packed my car with some clothing, a pillow and some blankets. I made a thermos of coffee and I left.

In this traumatized state I didn't take much… I was just terrified he would come back.

So I drove to Melbourne with a broken shoulder. Which wasn't easy, but I didn't even know it was broken. I just knew it was very, very sore.”

What happened when you arrived in Melbourne?

“It was freezing. It was terrible the first year.

I slept in my car for three or four weeks, then ended up finding a property that I'm in now and it's a private rental and it takes all of my basic disability pension. That leaves me around $30 to survive on each week.

But the really important thing here was that I felt safe. I was safer and warm after those three or four weeks sleeping in a car.

I had a good job. [My ex] just traumatised me, mentally, physically, just, I was frozen for two years basically. COVID kept me indoors for two years.

I feel very displaced here in Melbourne. I don’t know anyone. I haven't got family down here.

I got really sick. [I had an operation and] they failed to do an after operative check. So out of that I've got an immune deficiency.

I nearly lost all my teeth because of malnutrition. I can't eat properly. All I can eat is anything I can put in a blender, basically. I haven't been able to chew. We're about halfway through the dentistry. I got into a community dentist that's helping me. So basically I had these beautiful healthy teeth, [now gone] from not being able to eat and being so sick after this illness.

[This, combined with] all the mental trauma, the PTSD… I've lost my self-esteem and I've lost all the good things.

When I got to Melbourne I didn't know that there was so much help out there for domestic violence. I just suffered quietly.

I just, I didn't know where else to go.”

How did you come into contact with CatholicCare Victoria?

“I found [CatholicCare] about a year ago - I was reading something and I thought, oh, maybe they can help me, even just to get some food in the house would be good. One day I rang and [they] were just lovely.

[The CatholicCare worker] made a tremendous difference for me. She was, you know… she just gave me hope again that I could get out of this and I could get through it, but I’ve basically been on my own other than her shining that light.

They offered me food. But she gave me the hope and that was everything. That's the biggest thing she could have given me.

Just that 12-minute call every couple of months made me feel a little bit more connected to society.

I had to put my hand up and go, hey, there must be more people suffering this and we must be falling through the cracks, not just me, but other people. And yeah. They just gave me hope.

They reinstated that I was worthy. They nourished my soul and allowed me to have hope again.”

To provide compassionate support and stop others like Lisa from falling through the cracks, please consider donating to our Winter Appeal here.

To find support for domestic violence, see services and resources below:

Liz Gellel | Marketing Coordinator – Digital Lead

*At CatholicCare Victoria, we respect everyone who comes to us for help. Many are working towards a fresh start in life. So, while the stories and quotes are true, the client name and image have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for your understanding.

16 June 2022
Category: News