Jarrod’s parents divorced when he was little. His mother later settled down with Sam, who seemed like a great guy, happy to go skiing, camping and riding bikes with Jarrod. The family soon expanded with the arrival of brother Ollie.
But with sister Cassie, Sam became moody, and started to drink. This quickly evolved into threats of violence against Jarrod. Then worse… real violence began when Sam started to beat Jarrod. At just 11 years old, Jarrod thought he must be doing something to deserve being hit – but he couldn’t work out what.
Feeling guilty, Jarrod tried to hide what was happening.
‘I’d tell Mum the bruises came from school fights, but I finally got the courage to tell her that they came from Sam. He was so mad. SO mad,’ Jarrod recalls.
‘This time he hit me square in the face and I fell backwards down the stairs.
I don’t know how I didn’t break every single bone in that fall. Mum was there to see it this time."
Jarrod’s mum was shocked to the core to understand at last that her son was a victim of horrific domestic violence from her husband.
Seeing Sam tower over Jarrod as he hit the boy, then Jarrod falling down the steps, was more frightening than anything she had experienced before. There was no way she could let this continue happening. Their own home was unsafe.
That night Jarrod’s mum waited till Sam left to go to the shop for more alcohol. She hurried her three terrified children out to the car and they left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.
They finally arrived at a refuge. Jarrod was distraught, hurt and bruised, and his siblings were upset and confused. Then a friendly refuge worker gave Jarrod a Buddy Bag backpack.
Inside, there were everyday items like a toothbrush, toothpaste and a hairbrush, and underwear and pyjamas to change into for bed. There was a book and a teddy bear to cuddle. All together these items created a sense of hope – that tomorrow would be a better day.
This is the impact you can make for children affected by violence.
Buddy Bags help soothe worries, with a book to read, a teddy to cuddle, and for older kids, a journal to write in. They help re-build the routines of life, through brushing teeth, combing hair and preparing for bed. They’re a place to keep your ‘stuff’.
Buddy Bags are so much more than a list of the things they contain. They give a child something to cling to, a sense of safety and security, a first step on the road to recovery.
Going back to school, a Buddy Bag can be a shield against embarrassment and bullying for children who otherwise might have to carry a plastic bag.
Buddy Bags show the child there are good people who care.
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