OUTER EAST

Support for all victims

A Place for Indi offers women a way to flee family violence without leaving beloved pets behind

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Picture: DAVID CROSLING

UP TO 20 women a week are calling an outer east domestic violence service asking for advice about their pets as they try to leave abusive homes.

It comes as the Eastern Domestic Violence Service (EDVOS) in Ringwood continues to help women, children and their pets out of domestic violence.

Its latest program, A Place for Indi, is based around the experience of an 11-year-old bull mastiff which had to be surrendered by its owner when fleeing from domestic violence because no refuges allowed pets.

Indi and her owner eventually found a home but the service’s chief executive Jenny Jackson said it was a less rosy story for other women trying to escape domestic violence when they had children and/or pets.

“Women are worried about everybody’s safety and wellbeing – the children, the pets,” Ms Jackson said.

She said between 10 and 20 women a week contacted the service for advice about leaving domestic violence with children and/or animals to care for.

Of those, about 80 per cent of women left an abusive home or relationship if alternative accommodation was found for their pets. She said the remaining 20 per cent would continue to work with the service.

Having to leave pets behind or surrender them to a shelter because women’s refuges don’t allow animals was often a dealbreaker, Ms Jackson said.

“We know that 53 per cent of women attempting to leave domestic violence have had their pets hurt or threatened with violence by the perpetrator,” she said.

A Place for Indi has been going for 10 months and is an expansion of the service’s Pets in Peril program, which has been running for more than 10 years, Ms Jackson said.

“We take everybody’s safety into consideration,” she said.

Ms Jackson urged anyone seeking to leave a domestic violence situation to phone 000 if in imminent danger.

People can also contact the Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre on 1800 015 188 or EDVOS on 9259 4200, weekdays from 9am to 8pm, and Saturdays, from 9am to 5pm.

We know that 53 per cent of women attempting to leave domestic violence have had their pets hurt or threatened with violence by the perpetrator
– JENNY JACKSON