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Meet the women giving ‘power dressing’ a life-changing new meaning

Meet the women giving ‘power dressing’ a life-changing new meaning

Jackson, a trained interior designer and stylist who switched careers to social work after a trip to Kenya about 10 years ago, hopes her unusual skill set leaves her well-placed to expand Haus of Armour across Australia. But to do so, she will need grant money, or a revenue stream for the not-for-profit, such as setting up a high-end op-shop.

She says it would help if more people – including government and other policy- and decision-makers – could see the important practical and therapeutic role clothing can play in the healing process for victim-survivors. “You see the difference in how they hold themselves in the mirror,” she says.

Fashion as armour: New York Times photographer, the late Bill Cunningham.

Fashion as armour: New York Times photographer, the late Bill Cunningham.Credit: AP

Jacquie O’Brien, director of community change at Respect Victoria, says a woman’s access to clothing and control over what she wears are often tied up in patterns of abuse.

“When you look at women who are leaving relationships, they may not have taken their clothes or wardrobes with them, or been able to wear what they want to in those violent and controlling situations,” she says. “It’s something that needs to be genuinely seen as part of the process of rebuilding a life after leaving a violent situation.”

Brisbane-based charity Beyond DV says 95 per cent of its clients say being told what they can and cannot wear was one of the features of their abusive relationship.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114 or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.

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