Kathy Experienced Unimaginable Trauma at the Hands of Her Ex — A Stranger’s Act Gave Her Hope

Share the Dignity

Content warning: this article contains references to domestic violence and could be triggering for some readers.

While Christmas is a joyous time for so many of us, with the promise of warmer weather, festive cocktails and time spent with the people we treasure — it can be an extremely painful time for those women and children living under the poverty line in Australia.

According to statistics from Mission Australia, 1 in 6 women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner, causing them emotional, financial and physical harm, among other struggles, such as having to flee the home — often with children in tow.

To be flung into the unknown, into unplanned circumstances where they find themselves unable to provide for themselves or their children and without the basics we often take for granted, is something experienced by over a almost a quarter of our population.

It’s pretty staggering. And it can happen to anyone, like it did to 47-year-old Kathy Graham.

Kathy was the victim of a domestic violence shooting, which saw her get shot through the hip, causing her to need major surgery. She was left in financial disarray, with a build-up of psychological issues both from the course of the relationship, and as a result of this traumatic, violent experience.

In the aftermath of her injuries and fleeing her domestic violence relationship, Kathy was lucky enough to receive an #ItsInTheBag handbag, from Share the Dignity’s Christmas initiative, that sees bags full of necessary hygiene products go out to charities that support women and children below the poverty line.

“The bag helped me as I was given it when I truly needed it,” Kathy tells POPSUGAR Australia. 

“I was still struggling financially when I received the bag. It had shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, a little bottle of perfume and most excitingly two packets of pads. I was so grateful and couldn’t believe it, two packets!” 

While the bag was the first and only handbag she’d ever been given, and still cherishes it to this day, the most important aspect of her #ItsInTheBag bag, was the personalised note that was handwritten inside,

“Inside the bag was a little piece of paper that said, ‘you are not alone’. That was so special to me because the whole system had let me down, I felt I wasn’t worthy and when someone I didn’t know said, ‘you are not alone’ it made me feel so special and validated.”

Kathy says that the note showed her that there was still care and compassion in the world, which gave her some much-needed hope. Not only was she receiving necessary items, to help her care for herself and get back on her feet, the bag became a true symbolic gift, a gesture of someone doing something to simply help someone else.

“I still carry the bag with me to this day, it reminds me of who I was, to who I am now and how far I have come.”

We need more of that in this world.

Since receiving her #ItsInTheBag bag, Kathy works full time and is an active advocate for victims of domestic violence.

“The handbag gave me courage, self-worth and dignity.  It changed my life. I now feel like every other woman because I have a handbag.  A simple item that I didn’t have after I fled DV.  I have a space to put documents, a space to keep personal items, and a place to put period products so they aren’t on show to the world.

“I am no longer a victim… but a survivor.”

How We Can help

Many of us have the ability and privilege to donate, even as little as $10 — if you go in with some friends — can change someone else’s entire situation and mindset.

Getting involved with Share the Dignity’s #ItsInTheBag campaign, is extremely easy and worthwhile. Take an hour out of your weekend this weekend, and make a cute little bag full of essential female hygiene items and other feel-good goodies — plus a personal note, if you like — that can be sent off to charities around Australia that support women and children in need.

“We can’t end poverty, but we can make a difference,” says Kathy.

Here’s how to take part in Share the Dignity’s #ItsInTheBag initiative:

  1. Find a good condition or new bag to fill (e.g. handbag, backpack or duffel).
  2. Fill the bag with essential items (you can find checklists on their website here).
  3. You can then add in some extra special additions and a handwritten note.
  4. Tell your friends about #ItsInTheBag.
  5. Take it to a Bunnings near you for collection between November 18 – 27.
  6. Feel warm and fuzzy for making someone feel special at Christmas!

What if you can’t get to a Bunnings near you between November 18 – 27?

You can mail your donation directly to: Share the Dignity, PO Box 345, Sandgate QLD 4017.

Another really nice thing to do when creating your bag is to take a video of you making the bag and post to social media to spread the word using the hashtag #ItsInTheBag.

You can find more information on #ItsInTheBag here.

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