FIGHTING BACK: Kirsten Langham, Dr Hazel Dalton, Megan Payne, Tegan Armour and Jenny Hargreaves at the Linker event in Orange. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN
Calls help victims regain self-worth
A UNIQUE service where specialist domestic violence workers call victims at night to offer emotional support has been given the thumbs-up and further financial support.
An evaluation of the Linker service, launched at the Barnardos Australia office in Orange on Monday, has found it reduced the women's anxiety and increased their feelings of support.
Staff call women in western NSW after 5pm who have left a violent relationship and are staying in short-term accommodation.
Tegan Armour, of Forbes, said Linker had helped her.
"Having someone to talk to at night time and having someone to just recap on the day, the good days and the bad days, and pull you through to remind you it is going to get better, it will get better," she said.
"It's really difficult when you're in that situation and you've got literally no self-esteem. You think that you're not worthy of help."
She said her partner was demanding full custody of their newborn child in 2017 when she received her first Linker call.
"I just had this phone call one night and I was just a mess. I spoke to someone named Astrid and I just cried," she said.
"When I got more involved with the girls in the service I really looked forward to hearing from them.
"It was taking that step forward because if you don't have someone there to pull you and get through it is hard, it is really difficult.
"Because I would go, 'maybe I should just go back to him, it would be easier and stop all this. "[They said] 'No Tegan, look how far you've come'. It's pretty good, it's a really good service."
"There is nothing like having someone else on the other end of the phone who's there to support you and remind how far you've come and give you the next step to take."
Dr Hazel Dalton, research officer at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, said support from short term housing providers and clients, had enabled Barnardos Australia to gain further funding.
She said research showed 208 women had been supported with an average of 12-15 calls made every night with calls lasting an average of 20 minutes.
Jenny Hargreaves, Linker program manager said it had been well received.
"It is offering emotional support. Because at night they are lonely, they are in a motel room with their kids," she said.
(This article first appeared in the Central Western Daily)