Loved back to life
14 November 2018
A life derailed by bullying
Melissa grew up in a happy home with loving parents, but her typical childhood came to a halt when the bullying began.
She started self-harming in an effort to cope with the abuse, then began using drugs and alcohol to numb her feelings. Things deteriorated fairly rapidly and Melissa fell pregnant and became a mum at just 19. Her relationship with the baby’s father didn’t last and she spiralled into further drug use and relationships involving domestic violence.
Feeling powerless to get off the path she was on, Melissa made the difficult decision to hand her son over to her parents to raise to shield him from the drugs and violence in her own life.
“I didn’t have a sense of how to get through it,” she says. “I didn’t look to the future. It was just too painful to think about.” Her only solution? “I would just use more drugs every day. If something went wrong, I’d use more than I did the day before.”
Almost inevitably, she ended up in prison.
“I was sitting in the watch house and they told me that I wouldn’t be getting bail and I’d be going to prison. So while I was in the watch-house I tried to hang myself with my belt.”
Rock bottom becomes road to recovery
As a result of that Melissa entered QMerit (a diversion program for people on drug charges) and secured a place at The Salvation Army’s rehabilitation facility, Moonyah, in Brisbane. Her transformation had begun.
“I still had to be sentenced for the charges I was on, but when the judge told me she was proud of the work I’d done – as I’d appeared before her numerous times – it all changed. It was the first time I got a sense of having God in my life. It was a very emotional experience and it gave me the courage and strength to continue on at Moonyah.”
Leanne, Moonyah’s manager, was in court with Melissa that day and has followed her progress ever since. “Every time I see Melissa, I just feel so blessed,” she says. “She's just a joy and such a courageous woman. She set goals in place when she was in here working with our caseworkers, and she has dreams of her family, which is constantly being reunited and built stronger. I've just watched her go from strength to strength.”
Today, Melissa is raising her son. She says, “Having rebuilt my life and having my son back in my care is the best gift that recovery has given me.
“If it wasn’t for the Salvos, I would definitely be in prison and probably wouldn’t even be alive. The Salvation Army loved me back to life. Your support saves people’s lives every day.”