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A STORY FROM ISOLATION TO CONNECTION AND SAFETY

JANE'S STORY

We first met Jane* when she reached out to a local domestic violence service provider on the Gold Coast. She and her two boys were facing a scary future and were in need of help. 

Her ex-partner had just been released from prison after serving several years for giving her a serious physical injury. Jane and her boys, Zac* (11 years old) and Jacob* (7 years old), were hiding in their home, fearful everyday that he might turn up to harm them.

They were isolated and constantly terrified. Their hearts would race with every dog bark, every sight of a car parked outside and every thud or creak in the house. The boys had stopped going to school, scared they would be taken, or their mum would be hurt. 

Jane knew she was in trouble. Her only option if he showed up was to call the police and if she called too early, there was nothing they could do. If she called too late, she might need an ambulance too. If she called too often, she might not be believed. And if her ex-partner did show up, Jane was expected to get to her phone, dial the police, explain what was going on, and then wait, hoping they would get there in time. She could not relax and neither could her boys. Her eldest had taken to sleeping with a knife under his pillow to feel safe.

We asked Jane who knew about what was keeping her up at night. She said no one. We asked her who in her life would care enough that if they knew, they would drop everything at any time to keep her and her boys safe. She cried. For so long she had thought that because no one knew, it meant no one cared. It had kept her isolated and ashamed.

Together, we went through the contacts in her phone, asking who each person was. When we got to Steve, Jane paused. "No, he's just moved, I don't want to disturb him", she said. We explained that it wasn't her job to answer for Steve, it was simply to ask. 

Now her heart was racing because she was checking whether anyone really did care. Steve's response brought her to tears again. "Of course I will help", he said, "why didn't you tell me sooner?". Jane sat a little taller. For the first time in a long time, she felt like she was worth something. With every call and every offer of support, Jane's confidence grew.  

We built StandbyU Shields for Jane and her boys. With a simple click of a button on their smartwatches, they would now be connected to their support network, who could hear what's going on and drop everything to get them the help they needed.

We checked back in with Jane a few months later and she shared that she'd had the best night's sleep in 20 years. Her boys were back at school too. They all felt safe again, thanks to the connection they now had with friends and family who will always be there for them.

*Names changed

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