The devasting effects of coronavirus may mean we are getting but a small taste of what many victims of domestic violence have been living with for years. Now imagine on top of that, being trapped at home, unsafe, in fear, with the looming probability of physical and psychological abuse.

Victims are essentially being directed to be locked in their homes with their abusers, and reports indicate there has already been a substantial increase in cases since the outbreak of COVID-19. Women’s Community Shelters expect greater demand now, more than ever, from vulnerable women and children.

Women’s Community Shelters are open, operational and working around the clock to keep up with demand at this critical time, empowering women in crisis to create a better future.

35-year-old Sara* arrived at the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter (HKWS) after ending her 14-year marriage. The trauma of her miscarriage caused by domestic violence finally gave her the strength to leave. As Sara talked with her caseworker, their eyes never met – Sara was too ashamed to interact with anyone. She thought it was normal to always be put down and live with constant violence.

Within three days of arrival at the shelter, a case plan to turn Sara’s life around had been prepared, including English classes, TAFE courses and a scholarship using her remarkable culinary talents. Caseworkers at the shelter assisted Sara to move to convenient, comfortable transitional housing and regularly receive outreach support. Thanks to excellent mentoring, skill and dedication, Sara successfully completed a three-month scholarship and was offered full time work. Word spread of Sara’s amazing talents and a premier fine dining restaurant is now her employer.

HKWS is expanding its team and outreach program, even though their income is declining due to the inability to fundraise because of social distancing. Many of you that would like to donate may not be able to right now, but if you can, please do so by visiting donate/. Even a small amount will make a difference.

And there are other ways in which we can all help. Please stay home unless absolutely necessary. There is a direct link between a victim’s visibility in the community and their safety. The longer you continue to go out unnecessarily, the longer they are trapped in an abusive environment.

If there’s anybody that you are worried about, check in on them in every safe way that you possibly can and remain connected. You can also make a report anonymously about anyone in the community you believe may be in danger.