‘We Care’ Survivor Story: Sarah Kelly

by | Jul 7, 2016

By August 2013, Sarah Kelly was at the point of leaving her controlling and violent husband. Then something happened that made it impossible for her to stay.


‘We’d been out on a family boat trip, and, as always, something happened that sparked Alan’s temper,’ Sarah tells New Idea. ‘He punched me in the face. Immediately I was in agony.’


With several witnesses, including Sarah’s five-year-old son, the police were called for the first time in Sarah’s 11-year history as a victim of domestic violence.


‘I’d always coped with it before,’ Sarah admits. ‘The abuse was mainly verbal, with the odd assault. But this was different.’


This time, with his single punch, Alan Williams had ruptured Sarah’s right eyeball, fractured her cheekbone and jaw, and broken a bone in her nose. After 10 days in hospital, Sarah returned home – but she had lost the sight in her right eye forever.

‘I was in extreme pain and I was terrified what Alan would do to me and the kids,’ she remembers. ‘He had been charged with endangering my life, but he was out on bail and I knew he’d be angry.’

Sarah lived in fear for the next 14 months, as she waited for the case to go to court.

‘I was living on high alert, dealing with a permanent disability and two terrified children, but Alan was free to live his life,’ she says. ‘It made me so angry. The court process shouldn’t have taken that long.’

To add insult to injury, Williams’ court date was adjourned six times. 

‘Each time I’d get so stressed about facing him. I’d have to psych myself up and then I’d get a call to say it was cancelled. It made me physically sick.’

Alan James Williams, 42, was finally sentenced to 18 months in jail in January this year, but is eligible for parole in nine months.

‘In comparison, I have a facial deformity, which will haunt me for life,’ says Sarah, 34. ‘I’m glad he’s gone to jail, but I’m so angry with the legal system that put me through hell for so long.

‘It’s extended the impact of the attack, and even now there’s no real relief, as he’ll be out soon and living a normal life, while I will live with a deformity on my face forever.’

New Idea is raising funds for victims of domestic violence to provide them with We Care Packs. We aim to help one woman a day in 2016 – but we need your help to do that.

Please support our campaign and donate at www.wecarepacks.com.au, powered by Donate Planet.

Proceeds will be put towards further packs and as little as $5 can help us deliver this much-needed service for women everywhere.

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Women Fleeing Domestic Violence Can Now Receive A One-Off Support Payment

It’s been labelled the shadow pandemic and the fact remains that for many women across Australia, domestic violence is a lived reality that doesn’t discriminate by age, occupation, or socio-economic status. Researchers have found that during Covid-19 lockdowns, there was a surge in family and domestic violence, with agencies experiencing a surge in demand as nearly half their clients reported an increase in controlling behaviours. 

As many who have lived through such turmoil and trauma can attest, the roadmap to fleeing such situations at home can be fraught with challenges and extremely difficult to navigate, particularly when such bureaucracy makes it even harder. Now, it’s been announced that women fleeing a violent relationship will be given a one-off $5,000 payment as part of a federal government trial scheme. 

Known as the “escaping violence payment scheme,” the government has set aside $144.5 million over the next two years to give women $1,500 cash, with the remainder to pay for goods and services, bond, school fees and other necessaries to establish a new safe home. UnitingCare Network will be tasked with delivering the payments while helping link women and their children with relevant community services. 

As the Daily Telegraph reports, “An analysis of domestic violence data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that while it is more common for women from poorer areas, women from high socio-economic areas are not immune from experiencing partner violence.”

As Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston explained, the trial has been introduced with the aim to help women overcome the financial barriers that might deter them from leaving a violent relationship. “We know that financial hardship as well as economic abuse - which may involve interfering with work or controlling or withholding money - reduces women’s ability to acquire and use money and makes it difficult to leave violent relationships,” she said. 

“The payments will assist people who need financial support to leave. We know the size of the house a woman is fleeing doesn’t matter. Often she bundles the kids into the car, maybe the dog too and they leave with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.”

To be eligible for a payment, women must be facing financial stress and have some evidence of domestic violence such as a referral from a family and domestic violence service provider with a risk assessment and safety plan, or an AVO, court order or police report. As UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little said, “We believe that all people, especially women and their children, have the right to live freely and without fear, and this payment is an important step forward to ending violence against women and children.”

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800 

Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online. 

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.