A new Illawarra support group for ‘secondary victims’ of DV


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If you’ve loved someone who is in a violent relationship, Leanne Banfield wants you to know you’re not alone. More than two million Australians have experienced abuse at the hands of a current or former partner, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. When one of Ms Banfield’s loved ones became a victim, she struggled with feelings of helplessness. Read more: Leaders call for plan to reduce violence and abuse by 80 per cent “They [victims] need to help themselves, but they also always want to believe their partner when they say it will never happen again,” the Shell Cove woman said. “There are stages of a domestic violence relationship, and the victim needs support through all those stages. “How can you effectively help them to help themselves? It can be very lonely to love someone who is in a domestic violence relationship.” Ms Banfield identifies as a “secondary victim” of domestic violence – and she says there is little support available. “Secondary victims are those who are supporting loved ones experiencing domestic violence,” she said. “We need support. “When I rang everyone I could think of to get support they were full, or only working with primary victims. “You feel so helpless.” Inspired by her own struggles, when she began a leadership course that encouraged community outreach Ms Banfield decided to create a space for other secondary victims to connect. The Facebook page DV (two) – Domestic Violence (together with others) is a place for secondary victims to share their experiences and get advice. It also contains links to support and educational resources. “The person in the domestic violence relationship might not be ready to reach out for help,” Ms Banfield said. “But we can share our stories and encourage each other to continue to be there for our loved ones. “It’s a way to feel less lonely and less alienated.” Ms Banfield hopes to expand the support network, first across the Illawarra, then Australia-wide. She has called on those who’s lives have been touched by domestic violence to share the group across their networks. “We need to have the conversations,” she said. “If we can get someone out just an hour earlier, we might save a life.” For crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. Mental health advice is available from Beyond Blue on 1800 512 348, while the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 can connect people with mental health services. In an emergency, call triple-0. The Illawarra Mercury news app is now live on iOS and Android devices. It is available for download in the Apple Store and Google Play.



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