Breaking the Silence – Four stories of strength and survival
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
Trigger Warning: This article discusses the trauma of rape, sexual assault and domestic and family violence.
The 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
Our Yarrow Place: Rape and Sexual Assault Service is the lead public health agency responding to rape and sexual assault in South Australia and works alongside Cedar Health Service: Inclusive Domestic and Family Violence Healthcare.
These services form part of Network’s Health and Recovery, Trauma Safety Services division, set up to advocate in relation to public policy development and planning, train and educate organisations and first responders to build community capacity. Our qualified staff are compassionate and non-judgemental, offering therapeutic support, with some having lived experience as a survivor of trauma.
To help raise awareness of this campaign, we're sharing stories of those found strength and support after surviving abuse and trauma. These stories show that even in tough times, there's hope and healing. Let's stand together against violence and support those who've been through it.
Laura*, a survivor who endured sexual assault as a teenager, carried the weight of her trauma for over two decades. Overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, and chronic pelvic pain, she hesitated to seek help, feeling undeserving. However, Laura made a "life-changing and life-saving decision" to call to Yarrow Place. Compassionate professionals, Ruth and Sarah, provided a safe space for Laura to share her experiences. With support, Laura reframed her self-perception, managing her daily challenges with newfound strength.
Laura’s advice to survivors: “It can be scary to talk about sexual assault but once you do it seems like a weight is lifted.”
In her late fifties, Karen disclosed the abuse she suffered as a young child, enduring years of anxiety and depression. “When I was at my lowest, Zoe and Yarrow Place provided a safe, supportive and nurturing haven for me. I cannot stress how important that was for me, and I believe it saved my life.” Yarrow Place became her refuge, offering immediate relief and a supportive haven. Despite the perpetrators being deceased, Karen found healing through expert care and counselling. Now, she sets boundaries and thrives on good days.
Karen's message to other survivors: “The abuse is not your fault, and you are not to blame.”
Survivor, Amanda, shared her healing journey with Yarrow Place after enduring sexual assault. Meeting an advocate at the Royal Adelaide Hospital marked the beginning of her recovery. Regular counselling sessions and support from social worker, Claire, provided a safe space to navigate trauma and disappointment in the legal system.
Amanda's resounding message: “Reach out! Sometimes you don’t even realise how much you need to the support until you access it.”
Cassie* emerged from a deeply controlling and abusive relationship, leaving her mentally and emotionally drained. Even after ending the relationship, she faced ongoing threats, stalking, and property damage. Struggling to cope, Cassie reached a breaking point, realising she had lost touch with herself. Seeking help, she turned to Cedar Health Service, where Social Worker, Pip became her support system. Cedar Health helped Cassie recognise that she was in a domestic violence relationship, and to rebuild and love herself again.
Cassie's advice is: “Allow yourself to be honest and understand there is nothing to be ashamed of.”
As we acknowledge these stories during the 16 Days of Activism, let us stand united, against all forms of violence and discrimination.
If you or someone you know needs support as a result of rape or sexual assault, contact Yarrow Place at 1800 817 421 or visit www.yarrowplace.sa.gov.au. For anyone 16 years and over who have been subjected to abusive and unsafe behaviour from a partner or ex-partner call or visit our Cedar Health Service: Inclusive Domestic and Family Violence Healthcare on 08 8444, 0700 or visit www.wchn.sa.gov.au/cedarhealth
#16DaysOfActivism #EndViolenceAgainstWomen #BreaktheSilence #YouAreNotAlone
*Names changed for privacy reasons.