Women's refuge pushed to limit

A WOMEN'S shelter has been forced to turn victims of domestic violence away, as new figures show protection orders have skyrocketed by a quarter in the past three years.

Edon Place Domestic Violence Service said it was often packed to the rafters and, in especially busy periods, was sometimes unable to cope with the growing queue of women needing their services.

“We can only do what we can do, but it's heart-breaking (to turn them away),” spokeswoman Gen Houston said. “It's a cycle of violence that won't let up.”

Although Ms Houston said Edon Place only had limited resources and was often full, she said the services they provided had made a difference to Bundaberg women.

Former Bundaberg resident Donna said the support and crisis accommodation provided by Edon Place was just what it needed.

“We had six children. All of them grew up seeing that (violence), which is such a shame,” she said.

“Looking back, I get angry at myself for being so stupid for staying, because they've suffered as well.”

Donna spent 13 years getting out of a violent marriage, considered suicide, and could identify with the 12 times on average it takes for a woman to leave an abusive relationship.

“I could tell they were holding their breath,” she said of her supporters when she left her husband for the final time.

“It was a vicious cycle, and he made me believe it was always my fault, no matter what happened.”

Donna said she may never have broken free if it were not for the support at Edon Place.

“It is lifesaving. I was in quite a mess,” she said.

“I was completely depleted of all finances, and they helped me financially in the way of food, clothing and a roof over our heads.”

Two years ago, the hard work paid off.

“For two years I have been free of him. I don't let him affect me anymore, and it took me a long time to get to that stage,” she said.

Ms Houston said that power and control were integral to men who battered women - and Donna's experience mirrored that of many who had sought refuge at Edon Place.

“Restoring self-esteem is very important to break free of the cycle,” Ms Houston said.

Bundaberg Housing Services operations manager Brett Hanna said while they didn't categorise clients (such as those in need due to domestic violence), in general demand easily exceeded supply.

“We work very closely with the network of housing providers and utilise emergency relief funds,” he said.

Telephone the statewide crisis line, DVConnect, 24 hours a day, on 1800 811 811.

Men involved in domestic violence can call 1800 600 636 between 9am and midnight for help.

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