22 January 2024

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Pay Our Respects: Honouring the lives of women killed in 2023.

On Saturday, 20 January, staff from Catherine House attended the annual Pay Our Respects commemorative service to honour the lives of the women who died as a result of violence in 2023.

We are thankful for the Pay Our Respects event organisers, Stacey Nelan and Gillian Lewis, who carry a certain kind of grief each year as they gather and correlate information about women who have lost their lives to violence. They aim to provide a fuller picture of the woman’s life than the glimpse often seen at the time of her murder so that all gathered together can pause, reflect and honour her.

We heard the names of 71 women across the whole age spectrum, nine more than last year, one woman every five days, and ten women from our own state, South Australia. Sadly, this confirms what we all know: that women’s safety within families, in intimate relationships and when they try to or do leave, their lives and those of their children can be at risk. Knowing the signs of an abusive relationship is one of the things you could do that might increase your or another’s safety.

At Catherine House, we are proud of the strong focus we have on education and the consciousness-raising of women who access our support while they are doing recovery work after experiences of trauma, homelessness and domestic and family violence. While in our service and for years after, many women are powerful advocates for change and use their stories to bring new awareness to the risks facing girls and women everywhere. Our beautiful banner with staff and clients says it all. Empowerment of lived experience, supporting self-development, and community advocacy are all part of our daily work.

It’s an awful sinking feeling that we know we will be back next year. We can only keep working with others in the sector and our community towards prevention efforts in the hope we can drive male violence down and see radical changes in the number of lives lost.

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