Domestic abuse survivor still in regional Queensland crisis shelter after 14 months

Jennifer * vividly remembers the moment she tearfully arrived at a crisis accommodation center in a small regional Queensland town with nothing but the clothes she was wearing and her dog in her arms.

After suffering domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-partner for close to a decade, she finally fled her home.

She remains there more than a year later, a stone’s throw away from where her abuser lives, because of a statewide housing crisis.

In a town where everyone knows everyone, Jennifer still sees him frequently.

“It’s not a wise decision, you’re just going to end up antagonizing everybody.”

Jennifer said her ex-partner kept her isolated during their relationship, with no real friends or connections in his hometown, which made her decision to leave the abusive relationship incredibly difficult.

“[When I was with him there was] 12 months where the furthest I went was out to the mailbox to check the mail every day, I just had no ability to go any further, “she said.

Close up shot of a woman's hands clasped on a lap
Jennifer * did not feel comfortable reporting her abuse, as her ex-partner is well connected in her small town.(ABC Capricornia: Katrina Beavan)

Small town concerns

Steps are underway to criminalize coercive control in Queensland and 8,641 police officers have so far completed the relevant training implemented at the end of January.

Domestic and family violence support Full Stop Australia chief executive Hayley Foster said Jennifer’s situation was not uncommon in regional Australia.

Woman with short blonde hair smiling at camera
Hayley Foster says there needs to be more investment in housing for women fleeing domestic abuse.(Supplied: Full Stop Australia)

“But that is much, much worse when you’re in a regional remote area because it’s a close-knit community [and] there are relationships that are at play. “

Housing shortage

According to federal government statistics, family and domestic violence is the main reason women and children leave their homes in Australia.

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