When Denise* needed to make a fresh start, the Salvos showed her the way to a new life.
I was a Christian when I married, but my first husband wasn’t. I went into that marriage from a dysfunctional home, and I’d had a lot of trauma growing up, so didn’t really know what to look for or recognise in a healthy relationship. There was a long list of things within the marriage that were not working and I lived with a lot of dysfunction and abuse.
We separated a number of times, but I desperately wanted to make it work. I had a lot of counselling over the years. At one point we were separated, but were working on reconciliation, when our toddler had an accident. He was 18 months old when he passed away. The trauma was crippling; I was really in a fog of grief for years, and basically just coping day-to-day.
It got to the point where I finally realised things were seriously beginning to affect my children, and I had to leave for their sake. But I didn’t have a cent, I owned nothing in my own name, and I lived on a tiny budget. Everything was controlled.
I knew I’d have to make a giant leap into the unknown, but I really didn’t know what to do. It got to the point that I thought, “If I don’t go now, I may never have the courage to.” I called the crisis line and the Salvos arranged to meet us, and took us to a crisis accommodation service. I was terrified. I wanted to do what was right for my family, but it was such a huge thing. I had three children and we’d left with just a suitcase each.
The women from the Salvos were really lovely. From the moment we got there, we received so much kindness and understanding. Even the simplest things meant so much. They took me shopping and said, “Put into your basket whatever you need.” I was so careful because I’d only ever been allowed a tiny budget by my first husband, but the lady with me kept saying, “Just relax and get whatever you need as a good mum to look after you all.”
We ended up staying around three months, which was amazing. They drove us where we needed to go and took my daughter to her high school and picked her up daily. They gave me financial counselling, and they also were able to take me to a pro bono lawyer. When I finally moved into longer-term accommodation, they helped me get a deposit for the bond as well as assistance with electricity and some good second-hand furniture.
The Salvos supported my faith and understood what it had cost me to walk away. They helped me understand God still had a plan and purpose for me and he still loved me. Even though I felt like a total failure they showed me it wasn’t the end of the story for me.
After being on my own for five years, I remarried and we have a beautiful blended family. I work with special needs children and have been doing that for around 10 years. It is very fulfilling. My husband is a dedicated teacher and a loving, Christian man.
My journey has taught me there’s so much about faith that is so important—especially in the dark times. There’s God’s grace and abundant provision, and the power of forgiveness. I’ve also learned God can bring new and beautiful things out of great brokenness.
At that terrible crisis point I finally had to say, “I don’t know what’s going to happen but I will trust you Lord”—and he showed up for me at that time in my life in the form of The Salvation Army.
As told to Naomi Singlehurst
Do you need help? Call the Salvos at 13 72 58