A discreet way to deliver a lifesaving message to family violence victims
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A discreet way to deliver a lifesaving message to family violence victims

It's a discreet way to deliver a powerful lifeline to women trapped in violent relationships: a domestic violence support line number, printed in the one place most men wouldn't bother to look – inside boxes of tampons.

The new initiative by non-profit organisation Share the Dignity and tampon company Cottons, has been rolled out across the country in recent months.

Share the Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay, left, and Cottons representative Zoe Koulouris. The two organisations have paired to put the 1800 RESPECT domestic violence counselling service number inside Cottons tampon packets.

Share the Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay, left, and Cottons representative Zoe Koulouris. The two organisations have paired to put the 1800 RESPECT domestic violence counselling service number inside Cottons tampon packets.Credit:Bec Stewart

It means the 1800 RESPECT number is now being seen by many women who simply would not have known where to turn for help.

Share the Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay first set up the charity a year ago to help provide sanitary products to homeless and at-risk women.

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The 1800 RESPECT domestic violence counselling service number has been printed on the inside of Cottons tampon packets in a new initiative.

The 1800 RESPECT domestic violence counselling service number has been printed on the inside of Cottons tampon packets in a new initiative.

It provided 150,000 sanitary products to homeless and at-risk women last year alone.

At a recent homelessness meeting in Queensland, Ms Courtenay met a women who cried as she shared her story of suffering at the hands of a violent partner.

She told Ms Courtenay she simply did not know where to turn for help, or that support services even existed.

"I said 'Did you not know about the 1800 RESPECT number'?"

"She said 'No, and I still don't know, what's that?'."

"I happened to be looking at a packet of tampons and I thought 'Why don't people know about this number?'."

That was the seed of an idea that has now won the organisation praise from domestic violence sector workers across the country.

Ms Courtenay approached Cotton, who had already donated large quantities of tampons to the Share the Dignity charity. She asked if they would consider putting the 1800 RESPECT number on tampon packets, and they agreed.

"It's discreet, men don't ever go in to that tampon packet do they?" Ms Courtenay said.

"And you know what, a woman may see it one month, and then she may see it six months later and say: 'Right it's time ... I know what I need to do'."

She said she would love to see other suppliers follow suit, so that more women can be given the lifeline.

"One of the things we're really trying to do is to make sure that every woman knows," Ms Courtenay said.

"Whether you're a sister of somebody, or a cousin of somebody, you know the number so you can help them and give it to them."

Share the Dignity is about to launch its April collection for sanitary products. Collection bins will be available at more than 1000 sites, including Terry White Chemists, Fernwood Fitness Clubs, and Australian Hearing Hubs.

Anyone seeking counselling or support for family violence should call 1800 RESPECT.

Christopher Knaus is a reporter for The Canberra Times.

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