Charlotte was abandoned for the first time when she was just seven. Her mother left the family and she was sent to live with an aunt. In her twenties, Charlotte suffered a severe eating disorder and was abandoned once again by her fiancée at the time.
Charlotte was determined to persevere and to build a better life for herself by moving to Sydney, recovering from her eating disorder and working her way up to managing a restaurant. She even fulfilled her dream of becoming a mother, giving birth to two children with her new partner.
Sadly, Charlotte’s partner became increasingly emotionally abusive as her children grew up. She bravely decided to end the relationship, but was forced to take out an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) against him when he refused to accept this and became physically abusive. When he finally left her apartment he cajoled the children into following him, and Charlotte’s pleas that he return them were ignored.
“I was so naïve—I hadn’t taken out an AVO before and I just assumed that as I had always been the kids’ primary carer, they would stay with me. I was never advised to put their names on the AVO as well,” she said.
Charlotte has been fighting to regain access to her children. She has only seen them a handful of times in the last 18 months as the children are often with their father, who is still under the AVO. “I’m in trauma every day not being able to give them a hug, and not having me there has got to have affected them,” Charlotte said.
Throughout her ordeal Charlotte struggled to find appropriate legal assistance. “All these bodies which are set up to help women in my situation didn’t have processes that applied to me because the kids weren’t with me,” Charlotte explained. Charlotte began to visit the Wesley Connect program in the heart of Sydney, where she found practical support and wise counsel.
“When I felt like everything and everyone was against me, Wesley Connect made me believe in myself again and it gave me power to dig deep and keep going,” Charlotte said.
Charlotte’s situation is improving. She has finally found good legal support which is helping her to feel more confident in her quest to share and participate more in her children’s lives. The care she has received through Wesley Connect has given her peace and a new perspective on life. “Wesley Mission is teaching me not to be angry but to forgive, which is making me feel better,” she said.