In Australia between 70-80 women per year are murdered by their partners or ex partners (more than one a week). Many more women and children are victims of domestic violence. Statistics tell us that one in 4 women will experience abuse and violence from a boyfriend/husband/de facto/partner.
The Gabrielle Fund, named in honour of a local woman, brutally murdered as a result of domestic violence, was established by The Women’s Cottage in 1991 to financially assist women to safely escape a domestic violence relationship.
The Gabrielle fund is supported only by donations and provides financial support for tickets, food, nappies etc., to assist women and their children to escape violence and be and stay safe.
This service is only too aware of the fear women live in on a daily basis when trapped in an abusive and violent relationship. Often fear of further violence prevents them from leaving, lack of means is often another barrier.
Financial abuse ie restricting access to money; having to ask for money; having to account for every cent; not permitted (by controlling abusive partner) to own or have access to a debit /credit card can be part of the overall pattern of abuse and women do not always have the financial and practical means to escape the violence. This is why the Gabrielle fund is such a vital and necessary support for women escaping violence.
The Gabrielle fund will cover larger costs; accommodation, train fares, Removals costs, changing locks, set up costs (women who have to flee have no furniture or household items for a new house) and also smaller expenses as replacing identification papers eg birth certificates, food, petrol, nappies, baby formula to assist women in leaving the violence.
The Gabrielle fund will further support women for a time to stay safe ie not to go back to the abuse relationship, this support may be in the form of food hampers, assistance with medical scripts, new school clothing etc. The amount of funds are often limited due to the fact that all Gabrielle funds come from donations.
Experience working in this sector tells us that often the violence and abuse escalates immediately after a women leaves so providing support, including financial support is vital to keep women & their children safe.
To date since the beginning of this financial year over $4341, has been expended by the Gabrielle fund for things such as 3x removals, 7x emergency accommodation (ranging from 1-7 days and includes a couple of very large families), fares, fuel and food. By the end 2013 -2014 financial year the Gabrielle fund expended over 5,000 in assistance to women escaping violence. These funds need to be constantly renewed by donations which puts pressure on the organisation to find external financial sources.
Since the Gabrielle fund has been established in 1991 it has helped over 700 local Hawkesbury women & their children safely escape domestic violence.