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Scholarship Program, SI Fremantle, Australia

Increasing access to education for victim/survivors

SI Fremantle provided scholarships for two women who have suffered in violent and abusive situations. Both had successfully completed the Soroptimist Leadership Development Program and  wanted to continue further studies, but were unable to fund this themselves.

Nicole, who received a scholarship from SI Fremantle

Nicole, who received a scholarship from SI Fremantle

These two women will be able to continue their studies that will lead them from dependence on welfare to be independent, to be in charge of their own lives and with new skills and confidence, and will lead to paid work so they can support their families. Both are enrolled in further studies, one at TAFE and the other at a Theological College. Both women showed courage, expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to study the Leadership Development Course in its unique supportive format. Without the support and encouragement of counsellors and peers they would have had difficulty completing the course. The proof of their commitment was the desire to help other women who have travelled the same path by providing peer support.

I am a single parent of two gorgeous girls. Lydiya is 9 and Alexis is 4. I have just completed my first semester of University studying an Associate degree of Theology. Both my daughters are at school and life is good. But life wasn’t always this good for us”. Nicole (26)

At age 16, Nicole had a baby and left school. When the baby was about 18 months old, Nicole began going to night clubs where she met someone new with a promise of a normal life and gave birth to 2 more children. However this ‘ideal’ situation deteriorated into a domestic violence situation with father of two of her children. She tried to keep the house clean, children healthy and happy and food on the table, but it seemed she could never please him and he was always angry with her.

Nicole told the midwife after her third baby was born that he had stabbed her. Again Nicole’s hopes rose when they moved to a new home which was however away from her support group. Her situation again deteriorated and the violence began again. She wanted to kill herself as he was beating her.

I contemplated suicide but thank goodness never followed through, I had 3 beautiful daughters who had never asked for any of this”.

One night during a fight in the kitchen, her partner stabbed her in the wrist – as she faced him and in an effort to defend herself, Nicole grabbed behind her for any object she could feel – perhaps to throw in order to distract him. However what she picked up was a knife on the kitchen bench to thrust at him. As she did, he picked up the baby and held her in front of himself as a shield.  Not able to react in time, Nicole fatally stabbed her child.  Nicole was eventually found guilty of manslaughter and sent to prison for 3 years.

Slowly her life has turned around through her rediscovery of religious faith and through a new group of contacts. Through these contacts Nicole became aware of the SIWA sponsored Education and Leadership Course at Challenger Institute where she was offered a place. This has been lifeline for her. Following graduation from the first certificate course, Nicole was offered a place at the VOSE Seminary (Baptist College) where she is now studying Theology.

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