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Stories Of Change - Protect A Woman

During these times of economic challenges, Women's Community Shelters is experiencing a 25% increase in inquiries for safe accommodation for women and children, who are homeless or escaping domestic violence. Existing services are at full capacity, with more than 50% of women seeking shelter turned away due to a lack of beds. Across Australia, around 56,000 women are homeless each night, many with young children. Women unable to access shelters are left vulnerable, and disconnected from community and support networks. Women’s Community Shelters is dedicated to providing women and children with a safe place to stay and an opportunity to rebuild their lives. 


I’m Ivy, I’m 67 years old and living at Mosman House. As a child, I was physically and sexually abused. I feared and was controlled by men. I’ve lived with the shame and secret of abuse until now. At 18, I married. The romance of marriage soon evaporated. When my marriage ended, I was left with a baby, homeless, without money, little support and no housing options. 

The only option was a women’s shelter. Relationships that followed were abusive. I confused violence and sexual assault with intimacy. I was angry. The assault and abuse were a cycle I could not get out of until now.

In December I had to move out of my previous address due to financial and family violence. I had used up my savings and super. Mosman House took me in and gave me safe and affordable housing. For the first time I could step out of survival mode and work through the trauma I’d survived. I learned that the things that happened to me were not my fault. Now for me pride and openness replace shame and secrecy. Mosman House has freed me from my past trauma as a survivor of sexual abuse and physical violence.

Protect A Woman | ESSEN


Maria and her son were referred to WCS when Maria left her partner, following 8 years of physical violence, psychological and financial abuse, and intimidation. At the start of their relationship, the couple moved to Australia (where the perpetrator had citizenship). In Australia, the perpetrator controlled everything Maria did and tracked her movements. She was prevented from working or having friendships and when their son was born, he was not permitted to attend daycare. Her isolation was intensified by her limited English.

Maria was completely dependent on the perpetrator financially and as a temporary visa holder, was not entitled to any government-funded income or housing assistance. Following the death in her family, Maria was permitted to attend counselling sessions at the Family Court. She used this opportunity without surveillance to find and seek assistance from the Consulate of her home country. Maria disclosed she feared for her life and was anxious to know her son would be cared for if she was murdered by her partner. She was immediately assisted to leave the home and referred to WCS. Her caseworker helped Maria speak to Police and an AVO was put in place to protect her and her son.

Protect A Woman | ESSEN


Sarah was a shelter resident with a young child who left significant domestic violence. She came to WCS with nothing. Her husband used to lock her in the house. During her stay with WCS she had been working hard towards the outcomes she had set for herself and was progressing well. She’d been living in Australia on a student visa and was permitted to work 20 hours per week. She was extremely keen to find paid employment and applied for a position with a wonderful local restaurant.

As part of her ongoing support, shelter staff coached her on interview skills the week before the job interview and two days later she discovered she'd got the job. She has now successfully re-established herself back into her local community.

Protect A Woman | ESSEN


I was living at a WCS shelter, following a period of homelessness. I managed to escape from a domestic and family violence relationship, and I had nowhere else to turn.

The support I received from WCS was invaluable. It provided me with a lifeline and a sense of security during one of the most challenging periods of my life. With their help, I was able to move into a transitional home, which marked a significant step towards reclaiming my independence.

I was determined to provide stability for my son. I ensured he remained enrolled in the local school, as I believed that maintaining a sense of routine and familiarity was crucial for him. I was able to secure a job right around the corner from his school, allowing me to work during his school hours.

I've created meaningful friendships with my neighbours, creating a strong sense of community.

Protect A Woman | ESSEN


As a permanent resident of Australia, I faced domestic violence both locally and during a trip to Pakistan. Stranded without financial independence, returning to Australia became complex. A refugee support agency connected me with a WCS Shelter, where their case workers became my lifeline. They ensured my safe return to Australia with my three children and settled us into transitional house, providing stability after exhausting my resources in Pakistan and on travel expenses.

WCS used grant funding to secure food, clothing, and necessities for us, as Covid-19 restrictions isolated us in our new home. Additionally, the financial assistance was a vital bridge until my Centrelink payments activated. This aid not only eased immediate burdens but also empowered us to rebuild. My story shifted from vulnerability to resilience, highlighting the crucial role of organisations like WCS and their partners who support women like me during the darkest times. Thank you.


Fleeing violence has dominated my life, yielding formidable challenges. At 13, I endured an enforced marriage to my cousin, leading to two children. Escaping the torment, I faced risks by pursuing divorce, shaming my family. With my mother's aid, I found asylum in Australia, parting from my kids for safety. A turning point came with Women's Community Shelters (WCS), offering secure housing. Now flourishing, I no longer need an interpreter and engage confidently. Safe housing empowers me to set goals; I'm constantly seeking opportunities to enhance my skills, aiming to achieve financial independence. Recently, I was accepted to pursue my Certificate III in Hairdressing at TAFE in 2023.

Protect A Woman | ESSEN

Empowered women empower women, so in celebration of International Women's Day we are doubling our donation from $2 to $4 over the 8th to the 10th of March in support of a women’s charity of your choice.

  ESSEN International Women's Day