Domestic violence, drugs, alcohol, mental trauma, homelessness, stealing to support a habit, police, court appearances … *Katie’s life had spiralled way out of control.
It seemed like she was on an endless misery-go-round, and she didn’t know how to get off. The low point came when she lost custody of her eldest children – and it was at their initiative.
Somehow she found the strength to reach out for help, and luckily it was there for her.
Now things are looking up. She can see a way ahead to a better life for her and her children.
Katie has been ‘clean’ for two years. She has food and shelter. If things keep heading the right way she will soon have all of her children back with her.
Reuniting her children- all under the one roof – would be the pinnacle of redemption following the depths of despair she has been through.
‘I want my family back together,’ she said.
The turning point came when she contacted Aboriginal CatholicCare Services in western Sydney.
‘I had to change my life around, and they have been there for me every single day,’ she said. ‘I feel so comfortable speaking with the counsellor. She gave me amazing words, and reminded me of the values of my grandparents, of what I want in my life and how I can raise my kids. I might have a good cry, and she is always there to sit and listen. The shoulder’s there, and I can reach her any time I need to.
‘Without that support, and knowing my needs, I probably would have tripped along the way to where I am now.
‘They have never left me; they have stuck through it all with me. They have done an amazing job.’
Katie was the eldest child in a family where domestic violence and alcohol abuse were commonplace. She was a single mum at 17.
When she was subjected to violence in a long-term relationship, she thought that was “normal”.
She lived in constant fear, copping a “good couple of hidings” witnessed by the children.
But she ‘got used to the hits; the emotional abuse was worse’. Two years ago she realised it was “either him or them (the children) and they’re the most important thing”.
CatholicCare, meanwhile, organised educational courses for her, on everything from parenting and anger management to finances, gambling help and domestic violence.
She is studying mental health issues at TAFE and would like to work in that field.
‘I’m getting back to being a mum, a normal mum. We have all been through so much; it takes you off your feet a bit. Because of all the trauma, we have had no time to heal; we’ve never had the chance to heal properly together.’