Zehra’s story: In and out of homelessness
Zehra had always lived in central Sydney, and when she was just 18 she married a man who turned out to be extremely violent. Too ashamed to return to her parents, and with nowhere else to turn, she stayed in the marriage and had two children.
Zehra, former resident of Wesley Edward Eagar Lodge, tried to approach her doctor about the violence she was suffering, but was only prescribed valium to calm her nerves. “The valium really blew me away emotionally,” she remembers.
After years of violent abuse, Zehra left her husband and took her two sons with her.
“I just had to do it on my own, I had no family support.”
Things temporarily improved, but she had to work 18 hour days to support her children and started using speed to keep up – the start of an addiction that would last for years. In a cruel coincidence, her addiction eventually pushed her children, the reason she took the drugs to begin with, out of her life.
Broke and alone, she had no one to turn to and nowhere to go. Zehra moved into a refuge in Haymarket, but was still at risk of theft and assault. She had a bed and roof but was far from safe.
Battered by years of abuse and the shame she felt from being homeless, it was only when Zehra came to live at Wesley Edward Eagar Lodge in Surry Hills that she began to see that life could get better.
Zehra finally feels she has a safe place to live while she gets back on her feet.
“One day, when I am back on track, I will be able to look my sons in the eye again and tell them I did everything I could for them.”