Violence has claimed seven women's lives in five days
IT HAS been a tragic start to the month in Australia after seven women lost their lives to violence in just five days.
On October 3, the body of Sydney woman Nicole Cartwright was found beaten and bound in a park.
On the same day, Gayle Potter was killed in Traralgon, Victoria, with police alleging the mother-of-three's ex-partner deliberately ran her down with his car.
On October 4, a woman died in Palmerston in the Northern Territory after being assaulted allegedly by a man known to her - a man also charged with contravening a domestic violence order by NT Police Major Crime detectives.
On October 5, Dannyll Goodsell was found dead following a fire at her Ballarat home, allegedly at the hands of her partner.
On the same day, new mum Kristie Powell was also killed in her Wollongong home alongside her five-month-old baby who survived the ordeal. A man known to her was charged with murder.
On October 6, mother-of-three Jacqueline Lynn Francis was stabbed to death in Rockingham in Western Australia
And on October 11, mother-of-two Erana Nahu died of stab wounds in her Sydney home, with her 58-year-old partner charged with her murder.
In the majority of these cases, the alleged killers were known to their victims, with most either a current or former partner.
Speaking generally on the issue of domestic violence, Juliet Potter, founder of women's homelessness charity White Caravan, told news.com.au there was a direct link between financial abuse and the rising domestic violence death toll in this country.
While not commenting on the cases before the courts, she said many Australian women were "trapped" in abusive relationships because they simply can't afford to leave - and until that lesser-known factor was addressed, little would change.
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"All roads lead back to finances," she said.
"The reason women are staying always comes back to money.
"If we can help them sort out their credit and get rid of default, this is massively beneficial for them in getting out a loan or credit card to get out and move on."
Ms Potter said a lack of financial independence often caused women to remain in dangerous relationships, as the alternative was to "end up really struggling, couch surfing or homeless".
She said getting finances in order could "literally be a lifesaver".
"We are also very passionate about teaching young women and men entering relationships - especially if they want kids - to always keep control and to have independence around their own personal, separate finances," she said.
"Combining income or having one partner as the responsible financial 'controller' is a model that has proven to be disastrous."
Separation strategist Kate Boyden, who also works with White Caravan, said she focused on prevention and helping women avoid reaching crisis point.
She said the first step for women planning to leave dysfunctional and potentially abusive relationships was to find out where they stood regarding assets, income and liabilities, both individually and as a couple.
"Get copies of all finance-related documents you can, including loan or bank statements, employment contracts, share certificates and superannuation," she said.
"These all feed into potential child support calculations so you need to know your net worth as a couple.
"For safety and security, don't let your partner know you are investigating your finances - it's often a tip-off you're leaving."
Ms Boyden said many women who leave their partners are financially disadvantaged, especially if they had a career break or reduced their working hours after having children.
"Try to establish your financial independence by touching up your CV or obtaining part-time work," she advised.
She said while it could be more "challenging" to determine the real earnings of a self-employed spouse, there were often ways of accessing that information.
According to White Ribbon, one woman a week is killed by her current or former partner on average in Australia.
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).