Trigger warning: mentions domestic violence
When Sarah* was pregnant with her daughter Elizabeth*, she sadly experienced heartbreaking abuse and violence from her husband – the very person they should have been able to rely on most for unconditional love and protection.
“When Elizabeth was a few weeks old and crying, her dad locked her up in a cupboard,” remembers Sarah.
“Another time when she cried, he threw her on the couch. He’d lock me in a room and tell me I couldn’t go comfort her.”
When they fled their home, Sarah felt utterly desolate and exhausted. She spent her nights shivering on the streets in the rain, hugging Elizabeth close to protect her from the weather as best she could.
“One time I cuddled my baby in a shop doorway all night,” Sarah reflects. “It was winter, and I was freezing cold and drenched with the rain.”
Feeling desperate and with nowhere to go, Sarah called her ex-husband to pick them up. But the abuse continued. Every time Sarah would flee with Elizabeth for days on end, the fear and lack of options always forced her back to the place where they at least had a roof over their heads.
Finally, when the marriage completely broke down and divorce proceedings were underway, Sarah sought advice from Legal Aid, where she was referred to Wesley Mission.
Here they met Judith, Wesley Mission caseworker and for the first time, Sarah and Elizabeth’s lives began to turn around.
“I don’t know where Elizabeth and I would be today without Wesley Mission and our caseworker Judith,” Sarah says.
Judith connected with Wesley Community Housing who provided a place for Sarah and Elizabeth to call home.
“Because I had a baby and no car, she drove us over here. She brought a Ute and helped us move in. Our unit is small but we’re safe, we can breathe,” Sarah explains.
Unable to financially provide for herself and Elizabeth, Judith helped Sarah apply for Centrelink and provided supplies so Sarah could start building a future for her family.
“She gave us food hampers and called me a few days a week to check in and made sure we had what we needed. She even gave us some furniture. Without Wesley Mission, I wouldn’t have been able to get my head around everything or get back on my feet at all.”
Along with Judith’s support, Sarah has also been cared for by Liesa, Wesley Community Housing Community Engagement Officer. Liesa would regularly visit to check-in on Sarah and Elizabeth’s wellbeing and pray with them.
“I remember a few times that she would come visit and I told her all those dreadful moments in my life that was happening on me,” Sarah explains.
“She would hold my hands and pray with me. Those words that came out from her mouth – it was so beautiful. And slowly I started to believe that it will come true, that God will look after me.
“God brought beautiful people like Judith, like Liesa to help me – to be able to let me stand on my feet, to work, to get my child anything that I can for her.”
Sarah says she also appreciates how well cared for and maintained her place is, thanks to Wesley Community Housing.
“They look after tenants like their own families. That’s how great they are.”
Every time it pours with rain or is freezing cold outside, Sarah’s reminded of how thankful she is to have found support through Wesley Mission.
“I think if we didn’t have this help, I might not be here now. My situation before was so terrible that many times I just didn’t want to live. I believe Wesley Mission has saved my life.”
*Names and photos have been changed to protect privacy.
If you or someone you know needs support, connect with us today. If you’re in need of a bed tonight, contact Link2Home on 1800 152 152.