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Breaking the cycle of violence

Aimee* came to MacKillop’s Cradle to Kinder program after reaching out to Safe Futures, a local family violence support service.

Nineteen years old, Aimee had left a violent partner to protect her newborn child. She did what she could but was still concerned about their safety as she was living with her mother, who was also violent towards Aimee and her sister.

Growing up, Aimee bore the brunt of the physical and emotional violence, as she always tried to protect her younger sister. She built up a debt having been pressured to take on bills in her name that were left unpaid, and left school in year 8 to care for her mother during illness.

Now, having a child of her own, she realised that this was not acceptable behaviour or pressure to place on a child.

While Safe Futures helped her to find transitional housing in a different area of Melbourne and to take out a Nonviolence Intervention Order, they knew Aimee needed long-term support and referred her to MacKillop Family Services.

MacKillop case worker, Emily, was impressed with Aimee’s strength and compassion from the day they met. Caring for both a teenage sister and newborn baby on her own was a juggling act, but one she was totally committed to.

Emily was concerned that Aimee hadn’t been able to establish a secure attachment with her little one because of the instability in her own life. So our early parenting specialist worked with her weekly around this, encouraging her to read to her child and find other positive activities to do together.

“Once she had that space to create the attachment, their bond formed really quickly,” says Emily.

Another goal was to link Aimee in with the local community, as she felt isolated having moved away from her friends. Emily linked her with local services like the Maternal Child Health Centre and, while she was anxious at first, she has started attending a parenting group.

Today, Aimee has moved into public housing and her sister, for whom she is an official kinship carer, is back in school full-time.

Aimee has even reconnected with her Mum recently and, since her independence has allowed Aimee to establish boundaries, their relationship is far more positive and continuing to improve.

*Name changed and model image used to protect identity