Those critical first 24 hours of escaping family violence

 CEO of Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre, Dr Chelsea Tobin today spoke to colleagues from the family and domestic violence sector, at the No To Violence Conference. 

Dr Tobin told the packed room about the experience of her organisation, who last year took over 68,000 calls from women fleeing family and domestic violence, and how critical those first 24 hours of support can be. 

Dr Tobin said, “In that first phone call, when our intake and assessment team are talking through their experiences, building rapport with people who have every reason to trust no one that they can trust a stranger on the telephone with their most horrific moments, our staff are doing risk assessments. 

“They’re trying to find out if the person they’re talking to is at risk of serious harm. Is the person abusing them going to keep abusing them? Is the person using violence likely to hurt them, maybe even kill them or their children? Is their abuser not yet or not still in police custody? 

“If the answer to those questions is yes, the next step is convincing people that, for their own safety, they need to come into service. This is not always as easy. We have to tell them that as soon as they come into our service they cannot go to work, their children cannot go to school, they cannot visit friends or family, they cannot go anywhere they could be found, followed, and hurt all over again. 

“When we talk about crisis accommodation, most people assume we’ve found a refuge bed for every person who needs it. I can’t tell you how much I wish that was true. But it isn’t, about 90 percent of the people in crisis accommodation every night in Victoria are not in refuges they’re in motel rooms.” 

This is unfortunately the fulcrum for almost all of Safe Steps clients – choosing between family violence crisis and homelessness crisis. For most of them, there are no other options. 

“We know the most dangerous time for anyone in a violent relationship is often the moment they decide to leave. At Safe Steps, we envisage and what we work towards every day is creating a full therapeutic care model for crisis response that builds recovery and healing from the moment people come into service. 

“Our intention for a fully realised program where we will have all the services victim survivors need on site, in person, when they need it. It’s not easy or quick or simple but it is possible. And that’s what keeps all of us at Safe Steps coming back every day,” she said. 

 Media enquiries: Annette Ripper | | 0400 772 722