The bathroom's bleak reality for survivors of DV
HEY there stranger.
I don't usually take an interest in other people's bathroom habits but tonight I'd like to interrupt your ablutions.
To be truthful, I don't really want to watch you shower or bathe, but I'd love to ask you to think about what your bathroom routine would be like if you didn't have any shampoo, body wash or even a face washer.
And now have a think about what you would do without those essentials when you're bathing your child.
It's pretty bleak isn't it?
Sadly, this is a reality for tens of thousands of women Australia-wide each night.
Mums who are forced from their homes by violent abusers and they're roughing it in cheap hotels, caravan parks and even tents until it's safe to go back home.
They have no money and that means they struggle to provide the basics for their children - basics like toiletries.
Can you imagine what it's like to have to choose between spending your few meagre dollars on food for your kids or soap and shampoo?
Not long ago, mum-of-three Danielle was wondering how the heck she would keep her kids clean.
She was bedded down in a hotel after being forced to run with her kids from their violent dad.
With no cash and just three bags of clothes, Danielle had to make some hard decisions so she could bathe and feed her 14-month-old baby and nine-year-old twins.
"I sold my jewellery to provide for my kids' personal care needs," she says.
"We only had one bag packed for each and no money - nothing for a week.
"We had no soap or shampoo and only one pack of nappies and wipes."
Angela is a domestic violence survivor who drove for eight hours to escape her abuser.
"I was very scared," she said of going on the run with two young children.
"At the time all was thinking was 'drive to get as far away as possible'.
"I had only enough for food.
"I lived on noodles and Weet-Bix for five days.
"I only had motel-provided shampoo and soap - it felt degrading."
There is a way you can help mums like Danielle and Angela.
The RED HEART Campaign is collecting donations of toiletry care packs for children and teenagers and also baby care packs for mums and bubs.
All you need to do is pick up some supplies on your next shopping trip and deliver them to drop-off points across Queensland.
The children's toiletry packs should contain sensitive skin soap or body wash, bubble bath (because what kid doesn't love bubbles?), toothbrushes, toothpaste, a comb, brush, shampoo, conditioner, bath or shower toy, a sponge or face washer and if you're feeling extra generous - a little cuddle toy.
The baby care packs should contain a nappy bag, nappies, nappy rash cream, baby oil, a baby washer, baby wipes, a bottle, a pacifier and a baby toy.
We'd love for you to leave a note with some kind words in the pack for the mums and kids to read and hold onto.
The packs will be distributed to local domestic violence agencies across the state.
If you're too rushed to get together a care pack, you're welcome to send a $30 e-gift card to my organisation, The RED HEART Campaign (theREDHEARTCampaign@hotmail.com or phone 0412 274 801) and we will buy the pack on your behalf.
The packs can be left at any Queensland Liberal National Party MP's office or you can contact The RED HEART Campaign for alternative drop-off points.
Please, tonight when you have a shower or a bath, take a moment to think about the women and kids who are doing the same but without the little essentials we all take for granted.
Sherele Moody is a journalist with News Corp and the founder of The RED HEART Campaign.