Providing services for women by women is core to our foundation as a gender-specialist organisation.
Many research studies have presented the important role that women-only services play in the domestic violence, homelessness and alcohol and other drugs sector. They highlight the fact that women-only services are leading the way in best-practice service delivery. Their work is informed by trauma models of recovery and a gendered understanding of the causes of violence. This enables them to dismantle barriers for women, to create safe environments, instil hope and restore dignity and empowerment.
Providing safety, both physical and emotional, for women and their children has been highlighted as a key benefit of women-only services in those studies. Women-only spaces allow for an open, personal discussion regarding the complexity of women’s lives. Studies have shown that a women-only environment allows women to feel more able to talk about issues such as abuse, which they felt they could not discuss in a mixed-gender setting.
We also believe that a ‘safe space’ where women feel able to discuss their experiences of violence and feel protected plays a critical role for women in their pathway to recovery. This is particularly important for women who experience violence and abuse and are affected by its consequences, such as lower self-esteem, increased fear and anxiety and high levels of self-blame.
Women using Toora’s services tell us that sharing their experiences with other women better enables them to express themselves and feel heard and listened to. As women feel empowered, they are able to develop confidence, greater independence and higher self-esteem.
As a result, factors such as these allow us to deliver better outcomes for women.
Our clients tell us that our gendered service matters to them, with 96% of women who are staying with us agreeing that it is important our service is women-only.
Here’s what they had to say:
“Coming from DV it was comforting to have only women around me. I always felt safe in the houses.”
“A woman’s perspective is needed in traumatic situations.”
“I have a history of extreme domestic violence. I certainly wouldn’t have felt safe in recovery with men here.”
“I believe it is really important to have women-only safe spaces. As women we need other women who are going through similar things during recovery without men to distract the process.”
“Every time I have been in a mixed-gender service I have had a lot of time wasted by ongoing drama or intrigue. In house meetings we spent [time]trying to sort out who is hooking up with whom and what is to be done about it. SOOOO BORING!”