Financial help for domestic violence victims and survivors

by Kylie on November 1, 2013

The decision to leave a domestic violent relationship is a huge one. Fear of where to go, being found, supporting yourself and possibly children financially and more are all factors that contribute to stopping people from leaving domestic violent relationships. Many just don’t report anything and continue to live a life in fear.

Domestic Violence InfographicImage source

While it is hard, it is worth it to leave. Not only for yourself, but for your children and others who are suffering. Your story and your example can give others strength to leave.

Given that many women worry about the financial implications of leaving and how they might be able to support themselves/their family, legal costs associated with divorce, charges and court and everything in between, I decided to compile a list of options for financial assistance. I have posted previously on assistance available to low/single income families here, which is all relevant for those leaving a domestic violent relationship too.

Referral/help centres
If you go through the police and press charges you should be referred to services aimed at helping women from domestic violent situations. Sometimes they are listed as women’s health centre, other times they are just called referral centres. If you haven’t gone through the police, you can still go into a station and ask for your local women centre anyway.

The centres I dealt with had things like:
– Free legal advice and appointments with lawyers. Times varied and there were wait lists but I found that service really useful.
– Counselling
– Naturopath, doctors, massage
– Exercise classes and other classes to help in your day to day life
– Referral options to other services, recommended lawyers, doctors, mediation and so on.

Counselling
You are mostly likely eligible for free counselling. There are a variety of free services, but you might also be eligible for ATAPS which is set up to provide a maximum of 12 free visits with a registered psychologist.

Legal costs
Legal fees can add up very quickly. Depending on your circumstances you may be eligible for legal aid. Even if you don’t think you are eligible most courts have a ‘free day’ where you go in the morning and they take the first 10 people, give them advice and assistance without asking for financial proof of their situation. Also most lawyers offer advice for free for the first 30 minutes.

Compensation
There are various options for financial compensation to the victims of violent crime. There is a time limit for how soon you need to apply. Legally, at least in NSW, lawyers cannot charge you for helping you apply for the compensation to victims of violent crime. Each crime is allocated a value and it can take up to 3 years to be paid, so it is not a quick way to get money.

The way it works (again, I am only familiar with NSW, you will need to check your state for how they do it) is you apply and if approved you are paid. The money comes from a fund set up and they go after the person who committed the crime to recoup the expenses and refill the fund.

Centrelink
There are many payments available depending on your circumstances such as the parenting payment, newstart, rent assistance, education payments, advance payments, bond assistance and more. While it can still be hard living off government payments you become eligible for a lot of discounts on things such as prescription medicine, utilities, public transport and so on, depending on where you live.

Finances are not a reason to stay in an abusive relationship.

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