Mothers’ Day not easy for mums affected by family violence & homelessness
Being surrounded by glossy and idealised images of motherhood can make Mothers’ Day difficult and lonely for mums who have gone through family violence and homelessness.
In fact for many mothers supported by McAuley, it is a day which brings up emotions of guilt, sadness and loneliness.
Some have had either temporary or more long-lasting separations from their children because of the consequences of family violence.
Many mothers find themselves stuck in impossible situations – unable to keep their children safe from their violent partners, but facing the very real threat of homelessness if they leave.
In Victoria, more than 90 per cent of women and children who leave violent relationships end up living for weeks or sometimes months in motels, because of a lack of more suitable accommodation. Frequently, they move from motel to motel several times.
Mothers’ experiences of family violence and homelessness can also be a catalyst for concerns about the child’s wellbeing, leading to involvement of the child protection system and removal from their care; or losing access to children through the family courts.
These upheavals are traumatic for both and an ongoing cause of heartache, grief and distress, especially when children remain in the care of a parent who they know to be violent.
Last year in Victoria, 32,222 children were witnesses, or present, when police attended a family violence incident.
And almost a third of those asking for homelessness support because of family violence presented with a child, or children.
Reconnecting mothers and children
Living in our longer-term homelessness accommodation can provide an opportunity for reconnection with children. It is a more suitable environment for children to visit, and the overall improvements in the mental and physical health of their mothers means they have renewed capacity and energy to rebuild their relationships.
Maryann* is one woman who had lost contact with her young children after addiction and mental health challenges led to two terms of imprisonment and a shattering of her confidence in her ability as a mother. She had been sleeping rough, and says she was just ‘tired all the time, trying to figure out where to go next, trying to work out how to get through the day.’
When she moved into McAuley House options she finally had the space and time to heal, and connecting with her children was not only a priority, but a reason to work to overcome addiction and stay clean.
‘I couldn’t see my children. My ex didn’t want to bring them to visit me if I was sleeping rough or in the sorts of accommodation I had to live in.
‘Now that I’m living here, they can come and see me. I feel like a mum again’.
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