Looking after her children was what mattered to Jessie*, so the Salvos helped her do that—while caring for her.
Jessie had been living in a domestic violence situation for more than nine years when she came to the Salvos. A stay-at- home mum of three girls aged 9, 11 and 18, her husband was a corporate worker who physically and emotionally abused and financially controlled her—basically keeping her locked up in their home.
Jessie was then told by her husband that she could no longer stay in the home as he was planning to divorce her and had already moved on to another partner. She had no access to income and had long ago lost contact with her family and friends. Jessie felt so overwhelmed and embarrassed she was in this situation that when her ex-partner let her sleep in their back shed she accepted that this was her “lot in life now”.
Jessie felt grateful that she was able to remain near her daughters, but was not allowed to be in the house when her ex-husband was there—allowed only to use the bathroom once he had left each day. Living conditions in the shed were sub-standard and she slept on a workbench that had a small yoga mat on it.
Her daughters were upset for her and Jessie received calls from the school as their behaviour declined. She was told that her 11-year-old daughter was particularly distraught and had been found crying but did not want to speak with anyone about it.
Jessie realised she needed help, and when she saw a notice about a Salvation Army early intervention service she decided to see if they could help. After being so long with a man who did not allow her to speak, think or act without his permission, she was unsure about everything, and each decision she was having to make was a struggle.
Jessie was offered a place in the refuge and, although greatly anxious at not being with her daughters and scared to leave, accepted the offer. She had one small bag of possessions when she arrived and no access to money, but was provided with clothing from the Myer Give Registry. She was so happy that she took them straight to her room to change into immediately.
Jessie commenced counselling, sharing that she had received no legal advice about gaining access to her children and had been left with no money or identification that she could use to obtain essentials.
Jessie’s case manager arranged for an appointment with a legal service, followed by a Community Housing offer of a two-bedroom unit near her children’s schools. However, while she was excited to take up the offer, she was worried by the fact she had no way of setting up a new home.
When her case manager explained how the Myer Give Registry could help, Jessie burst into tears. After nine years of pain, she would now be able to provide her children with a safe place to stay and focus on being a mum.
Jessie was awarded joint custody of her children who requested to stay with her during the school week, and received a job offer the day before she left the refuge.
She has been in her new property now for some months. Jessie received a microwave, bedding for her and her daughters, kitchen items—both electrical and utensils—as well as other miscellaneous items.
Jessie and her family are incredibly proud of the home they have built. She has returned to her church community and now regularly hosts people in the unit.
Thanks to the partnership between Myer and the Salvos, along with everyone who has contributed to the Myer Give Registry, Jessie and her children are safe and comfortable—ready for the next chapter of their lives.
As told to Petra Jenkins