Mum and I were fighting all the time and it wasn’t a happy place for me anymore. I had told Mum that one of her relatives had sexually abused me. I don’t know why but she didn’t believe me. I think that is what hurt me the most – I’m her daughter and she is supposed to protect me but when I finally got up the courage to tell her what had been going on, she turned her back on me.
I was 15 years old the first time I slept on the oval. I met Paul not long after moving out of home. To be honest looking back now he was not the right guy for me but he was the only one who seemed to care. He was doing drugs, shooting up heroin and I didn’t like that. I used to try and get him to stop but he would get abusive, yell at me and push me around. I was still living on the oval but was trying to stay at school, getting up early each day so that other kids wouldn’t see that I was sleeping down there.
One day Paul and I were arguing about his drugs when he told me he had enough, held me down and shot me with heroin for the first time. That’s how it started – a four year drug addiction that nearly destroyed my life. Paul was pretty mean to me. He used to sexually assault me and push me around but he was the only person in my world. I am sure as you read this you wonder why I didn’t walk away but he was the only person in my life – no one else seemed to care.
I met my outreach worker two years ago. By that stage I had finally managed to get away from Paul but was living with Steve who was also on drugs, pretty violent and was involved in criminal activities. Like Paul, he treated me fairly badly but I was hooked – I needed money for my next fix and I still didn’t have anywhere to live.
I did stuff too – stealing etc – to get money and when my worker met me I was up on charges. At first my worker was there to listen to me. For the first time in years someone was actually listening to me. It was a strange feeling after living for years under other people’s control. She worked with me on my legal issues and stood up for me in court. The judge gave me a suspended sentence on the condition that I continued to work with Open Family Australia on my problems. Steve went to jail and for the first time I was away from his influence.
I began to clean myself up. I will be honest and tell you that it was incredibly hard and I have had some set backs. I have fallen down time and time again, yet my outreach worker is there to help pick me up and support me while I continue to try.
The hardest thing was talking to my Mum again for the first time in years as she didn’t believe me when I needed her the most. I can still feel that pain in my chest when I think about it. But through the care and support of my worker, we began counselling and seeing each other’s faults for what they are – mistakes.
I have just turned 20 years old. I am a recovering drug addict and have slept on the streets, behind buildings or on sports ovals. I have been pregnant four times, three times through sexual assault by people who I trusted. I have done some terrible things to support my habit. But more importantly, I am a young woman who can now look at myself and not see that person anymore – instead I see me, someone who has survived, who is now back at home, talking with my family and sleeping in my bedroom each night instead.
I am working full time now, earning a living and I pay my own way. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my outreach worker. She was the only one that saw the real me through all the crap and who believed in me. I now have a better chance in life.
Thank you Open Family Australia.