Taking back control
Trapped in a downward spiral of domestic violence, Kate could see no way out, until she sought the help of The Salvation Army.
It was control. Complete control. Every aspect of her finances, her daily routines, even her Christian faith (“my Bible was thrown in the bin”) was controlled by the man who had entered her life at her most vulnerable point. Kate was a highly-educated teaching professional, who would have never imagined being a victim of domestic violence. She had come from a loving, healthy family. She had studied and worked hard and bought houses, while still in her 20s.
Then, when a family tragedy hit, the man had been there, seemingly sympathetic and warm. Slowly she was drawn into his web. “He presented really wonderfully,” Kate explains. They formed a relationship and the more she was drawn in, the more the mind games began. As the man began to drain her savings, his drug and alcohol addictions grew, and as they grew, so did the violence. At one stage he even broke her leg.
After her son was born, Kate managed to get away. “I’d been crying out one night to our God, not his, please help me, I just can’t do it anymore.” Exhausted and traumatised, she feared for her life. She had escaped, but she had no job and was almost bankrupt. He was still living in her home and racking up bills. “I finally got him out of the house, but it’s completely trashed. There are no doors on the rooms, no kitchen cupboards, holes in the walls; he took all my appliances, computer, all my photos, anything of value.”
Kate was in deep depression when she first met Cas, The Salvation Army Salvos Connect caseworker. “Cas was amazing,” Kate says. “When I first went in to see her, and I was so afraid, the biggest thing she told me was that I wasn’t a failure, and how strong I was. She asked me if I knew Jesus and she prayed with me. It was so important to me. She paid my phone bill on the spot, she got me some food vouchers and nappies and electricity vouchers. She sent me off to a financial counsellor. Cas told me about Mainly Music (a Salvation Army program for parents with babies and toddlers) and she also got me into a supported playgroup. I needed someone to help me have the confidence (to organise services and my finances) and who could make some phone calls for me.”
Cas also suggested Kate rekindle her Christian faith and find a church. Kate found a spiritual home at a Salvos church and is now studying to be a Salvation Army soldier. Her church family has also been a huge support. “The ministers are amazing,” Kate says.” I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t walked through the doors of that church. I am closer to God now than I ever was before and it has really changed my life!"
Kate says another precious part of her journey towards putting her life back together was the support and donated gifts she received at Christmas time. “Christmas was always a big deal in my family," Kate says. "My mum (who has passed away) had always made Christmas a big thing, and so for me to not be able to afford Christmas presents for my son would have been heartbreaking. To know that something was under the tree for him, given out of the goodness of people’s hearts was quite overwhelming. It really was heart-warming to know people had been generous enough to think about others at Christmas time."
With ongoing counselling, Kate says she is growing ever-stronger and is deeply appreciative of the help she has been given to regain control of her life. She says: “As this stage I still live in fear, but I also have faith God will keep us safe. I have some very loving family and friends, and I will go back to work in the future. The greatest thing I now have, that I didn’t have, is hope!”
* This is a true story with names and some details changed to protect identities.
Do you need help?
Salvos Connect exists to provide emergency welfare relief for people in need throughout NSW, Queensland and the ACT. This service aims to provide clients with holistic and practical assistance for them to step out of poverty. If you need assistance, call the Salvos Assessment Line on 1300 371 288.
By Naomi Singlehurst