Tillie’s mum and dad fought – a lot.
In fact, Tillie and her mum felt like they were always walking on eggshells. The tiniest sound or thing out of place was enough to make Tillie’s dad violently angry.
It was exhausting and terrifying knowing he might snap, at any moment.
Tillie’s mum was terrified of staying, but even more frightened of leaving. Tillie’s dad had threatened to hurt them if they ever left, and her mum believed he would.
And then when Tillie was 7, her dad turned his violence on her.
That was the final straw for Tillie’s mother. She was shattered. How could he do that to his own daughter?
The next day, instead of taking Tillie to school, Tillie and her mum fled to a refuge for safety and protection. Not wanting to arouse suspicion, they took nothing but the clothes they were wearing.
Sadly, this situation isn’t unique to Tillie and her family. It’s a situation that happens to many more children and families across Australia. But Buddy Bags help – and so do you.
Situations like Tillie's are why the Alannah & Madeline Foundation created Buddy Bags.
Buddy Bags are special, individual backpacks filled with useful and comforting items for children experiencing violence, trauma or crisis. They’re bags filled with new, clean, carefully selected items that show children they matter and reassure them that someone cares.
When Tillie and her mum arrived at the refuge, Tillie was greeted with a Buddy Bag – a small but powerful gesture of love and kindness in an otherwise traumatic and terrifying experience.
Her mum said, “it meant so much to Tillie to have something to call her own”. And it helped Tillie’s mum feel less desperate for her daughter.
In her Buddy Bag, Tillie was equiped with new, clean underwear and pyjamas, a cuddly teddy, some books and games, and her own toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush. She was also able to use the backpack for school.
Even if it was just for a little while, Tillie was able to forget her worries and be a child again, colouring in while mum talked to the refuge workers and made plans for that night.
Buddy Bags are an important first step to recovery for a child who has fled a crisis or is experiencing trauma. They give them a sense of safety and security and show them that someone cares.
But it’s not only for kids fleeing family violence. We also provide Buddy Bags to children going into foster care, to families affected by fire or flood, or to kids facing exceptionally difficult times.