Amber is our first Safe Pets Safe Families ambassador. Loving volunteers looked after her dogs and enabled her to escape a violent and abusive ex-partner and get her life back on track. View Amber’s brave and inspiring story and read the speech below she gave at our inaugural Safe Pets Safe Families charity event in 2018.
Safe Pets Safe Families is run entirely through kind donations and the time of our wonderful volunteer and animal foster community. Donate to Safe Pets Safe Families or read more about becoming a volunteer or fostering pets while their owners are in crisis situations.
Safe Pets Safe Families gala event – Amber’s speech
Hello, my name’s Amber and I’m here to tell you a little bit about my story and how safe pets helped me When I was 18, I met the man of my dreams. He was handsome, older and successful within his career and the wider community. When I was 19, I agreed to pack up my life and move across Australia to WA with him. We got our first dog, Rufus and life was pretty great. Just under a year later, I came home to packing boxes and we were back in Adelaide within 3 days. It was his call and I was happy with him.
The next year, i found out I was pregnant. I was 20, young, nervous but still over the moon. A baby boy, my own little family. Our family grew with the addition of Ruby and then Red and for a while life seemed promising. But it seemed my partner was NOT over the moon. I announced the news to my friends and family and he announced to me that he had been cheating with another woman. He promised it was just because he was nervous and had acted wrong. I forgave him.
When my son was a few weeks old, my partner stumbled in home late and woke us up. Exhausted, I asked him to please settle our baby. I was answered with a fractured eye socket. The next morning i was showered with love and apologies. I forgave him.
Over the course of the next year I was cut off from all financial responsibility, I was allowed what he gave me and I would have to keep note of how much I spent, how much change I received and put that money into envelopes that he had assigned. I couldn’t see that this was wrong and I couldn’t see that my whole life was in his control.
On Mothers’ day I found out that he was again cheating, I begged him to stay home with me and our little boy and not to go and see these other women, I was desperate. I was dragged through my back yard, had my head smashed against concrete floor and was I was kicked in my stomach repeatedly. All that was going through my mind in that moment was that I was going to die, this was it. I remember laying on the floor whilst this was happening and looking at my back door willing myself to make it inside to my son. I made it to the stairs before being dragged down them. My dogs were inside going crazy, I could hear my son and I knew I needed to get through that door. I survived that day because I made it through the door and my dogs protected me and my son from anything else. He left the house along with my phone and my car keys. I was in agony and I was trapped.
The next month resulted in being beaten, stabbed with a glass and sexually assaulted numerous times. My dogs had been confined to the back garden and were not allowed inside when my partner was home. At the end of June 2017, I left, but I was not able not take Rufus, Ruby or Red. The next few months resulted in apologetic messages, abusive phone calls and threats towards Rufus, Ruby and Red. Each day, I was putting myself back in danger to go to the house whilst he wasn’t there and feed them, they were the last link to me being free from him. I was at breaking point, but I couldn’t leave my dogs. Financially, I couldn’t put my dogs in boarding and the shelters couldn’t offer me any long term stays. I was forced to re-home Red and thought I would never see her again; but at least she was safe. I was going to sleep at night begging not to wake up the next morning.
Then, one Tuesday morning I was given a flyer on Safe Pets Safe Families. Within a few days, Ruby and Rufus dogs were safe. Over the next weeks I obtained an intervention order against my partner and a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, I could breathe. I was in no mental state to be looking after my dogs at this stage, I had gone back home to my family and I could hardly look after myself or my son some days. I was assured not to worry and to take my time to recover, Rufus and Ruby were in safe hands and that when I was ready, they could come home to me.
During this time, Rufus and Ruby were also offered some respite, they had been through hell too. They were anxious and in the worst health they have ever been in. My dogs were walked, fed, loved and given a home when I could not provide one for them. Within a few months, I had received appropriate medical care, went back at work and was finally able to get back in to a home of my own. I sent Jen a message and we organised for my fur babies to come home to me.
There is a reality in my life that is this: I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for my dogs and my dogs would not be alive if it was not for Safe Pets.
I cannot thank Safe Pets enough and in turn I also thank you for being here tonight and supporting this cause. Ultimately, it would be nice if there was no need for a charity like Safe Pets. But for now, your help in supporting and publicising this cause will help people in my situation get out of it safely without compromising their pets. Along with the impetus of the Stop It At The Start campaign perhaps we can stem the tide of this epidemic of domestic violence.
Again, I would like to thank you for supporting Safe Pets, and will just add that, in a further final twist, Red has also returned to us to complete the circle.