When 37-year-old Freda entered refuge with her two children, Michael (8) and Roman (4) in August 2021, she didn’t consider herself as being in a family violence situation – she was just concerned about the safety of her boys.
Freda became at risk of becoming homeless when Michael, who is on the autism spectrum, reported that he had seen his father sexually assault Roman. Freda contacted Child Protection and police who initiated their investigations. It was no longer safe for the family to remain in their home.
Once in refuge, Freda began to realise that she was in a family violence relationship, and she was given emotional and educational support to understand her own experiences. During this time, her partner tried to contact her in multiple ways, including contacting the children’s school.
Freda was working hard with housing support services to exit refuge in October 2021 when
her former partner started Family Law Court proceedings. This increased the family’s risk level, as Freda was being approached by the legal team of the children’s father requesting immediate access as well as the children’s location.
Refuge Victoria staff supported Freda to get legal assistance through Victoria Legal Aid and during the court process Freda was supported to advocate to authorities the need to accommodate Michael’s communication needs.
During January Freda was working with housing support services to find housing for her family, however her applications were continually being rejected. At the beginning of February, Freda’s case manager advocated to a real estate agent, and Freda was finally able to secure private rental for her family.
As part of her exit plan from our service, Refuge Victoria linked Freda and her children with local family violence and family services in her new neighbourhood.
Freda and the boys are now safe and thriving in their new home.
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