Imagine falling in love, marrying, and starting a family with the person you think is the love of your life. But after a while, that person begins to physically hurt you - at first just when they've had a bad day, but before long it's happening almost every night. Your dream turns into a nightmare, one in which you do your best to survive and to protect your children.
For thousands of Australian women, domestic violence is their reality. But once they find the courage and strength to leave the situation, often it's with nothing but their children and the clothes on their backs. In fact, domestic violence is the principal cause in Australia of homelessness for women and their children.
Australian charity Thread Together was started by the former director of swimwear brand Seafolly, Andie Halas, who wanted to do something with the brand's extra stock and end-of-line pieces. Halas realised the impact these unused closes could have on so many thousands of people - as well as reducing landfill waste - and recruited other Australian fashion labels to donate clothes, before partnering with charities to distribute to those in need.
The major difference? Apart from everything being brand new - imagine how good it would feel being able to wear new underwear and bras, rather than second-hand - Thread Together gives women and men in need a choice: they can pick whatever they like and need from the store for free, whether it's a new Camilla & Marc shirt and pants for a job interview or a new dress for a teenager's school dance.
"When Thread Together started it was purely about creating an opportunity to take clothing from companies that had too much and give to people who had too little. But we very quickly realised the whole element of dignity," Halas explained. "I think we take for granted that being able to choose how you wish to reflect to the world by how you dress is a really important part of self-esteem."
Today, Thread Together opened its first hub in Canberra - a joint venture with St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra. Located above the Vinnies store on Colbee Court, the hub is a place where members of the community can not only get a new wardrobe but also where they can feel safe and secure.
The hub will be open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10am - 2pm at 17 Colbee Court, Phillip ACT. The service is available by appointment and referral only.
Find out more about Thread Together here.