Got your back sista

Soul Sister

Local charity founder Melissa Histon of got Your Back Sista, is all about empowering women to lead safe and happy lives

What do you need? It’s something Melissa Histon always asks, and the answers often lead her to dream up big, bold plans. What started as a day to encourage random acts of kindness soon grew into the Got Your Back Sista (GYBS) charity Histon now runs, empowering women who are experiencing or have fled domestic abuse. “It’s about showing these women support and kindness and helping them get back on their feet again,” says Histon.

Since 2016, the charity has helped upwards of 700 women and families and is continually evolving, from providing furniture and whitegoods for women starting again, to running self-esteem and confidence-building workshops. The charity also now employs caseworkers to provide one-on-one support.

Abuse thrives in silence. Abusers don’t want people to talk.

“Our caseworkers will do an assessment and help women develop a safety plan or an exit strategy. They can help refer her on to get legal support, counselling, and crisis payments, and guide those women to either get out of that violent situation, or just provide them support if they’ve already left,” explains Histon. “We’ve also started partnering with registered training organisations to help women get an education or vocational skills so they are less at risk of living below the poverty line.”

Histon believes strongly in community education, because the more we know, the more we can say no. “Abuse thrives in silence. Abusers don’t want people to talk about it. They want it to happen behind closed doors, where they have full power or control with no intervention.”

PHOTOGRAPHY  | James bennett