BREAK THE SILENCE: DVAC's team of volunteer knitters hope their tree jumper will encourage victims of domestic violence to seek support.
BREAK THE SILENCE: DVAC's team of volunteer knitters hope their tree jumper will encourage victims of domestic violence to seek support. Domestic Violence Action Centre

Hundreds reach out to victims of domestic violence at JandJ

THE hands of hundreds of men, women and children will reach out to victims of domestic violence during Jumpers and Jazz in July.

The Domestic Violence Action Centre created a tree jumper in the hope of shedding the stigma of domestic violence and creating connections between victims and support services.

The tree, constructed by around 10 volunteers, will feature the felted hands of people from all walks of life, from courthouse staff to children at childcare centres.

The public show of support is more important than ever as case workers report a noticeable increase in domestic violence incidents across Warwick.

DVAC service manager Kathleen Turley said staff were in Warwick on a fortnightly basis to support women through the court process.

"Sometimes people think it doesn't happen in their community because they don't necessarily see it or hear it but it happens everywhere in Australia,” she said.

"We have to start a conversation about what may or may not be happening in the Warwick area.

"It's definitely prevalent.”

The tree jumper, entitled "Where flowers bloom, so does hope”, will provide women with a subtle way of seeking out help.

"One of the greatest challenges we have with public events is that they don't want to be seen talking to us,” Ms Turley said.

"At Jumpers and Jazz everyone is going to be milling around and once they get to the tree it will be easy for them to take a brochure and move on.”

The service manager said women often avoided seeking help due to feelings of shame or concerns about safety.

"The perpetrator may have a connection with a number of people so for a woman to disclose what's happening to her may impact her safety,” Ms Turley said.

Victims of domestic violence who are inspired to contact DVAC can expect a judgment-free support zone.

"People can choose the sort of support they want and we don't pressure them into doing anything,” Mrs Turley said.

"We will listen, give lots of different options and walk alongside them in their choices.”

Though many women have come through DVAC and out the other side with established jobs and secure accommodation, Mrs Turley said staff at the centre considered every woman contacting their service to be a success story.

"It's a really positive opportunity to share stories and get support,” she said.

If you, or someone you know, requires assistance phone DVAC on 4642 1354 (counselling during business hours) or for 24 hour support phone Womensline on 1800 811 811 or Mensline on 1800 600 636.



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