Thanks to the Salvos, Melissa has a second chance at life.
I had a wonderful childhood and was an outgoing child who got good grades in school. Then I began being bullied, developed depression and started to self-harm.
I started high school and made a lot of new friends, but in Year 10, I started going to parties.
I was soon introduced to marijuana. At 15, I was at a party, drunk and stoned. I was raped. I did not tell my parents or press charges, as I blamed myself. I dropped out of school and every weekend was filled with parties, alcohol and drugs.
I started my first serious relationship, where I was introduced to ecstasy and speed. At 18 I fell pregnant, and in 2008 my son was born. By the age of 23, I was using ice. I ended up in another relationship; we were selling drugs and had the police raiding our home. My son went to live with my parents.
I began using ice every day. My partner and I became homeless, and he became verbally, emotionally and physically abusive.
I used more drugs to cope and we were arrested for trafficking. The abuse got worse, my drug habit got worse and we were sent to prison on a parole violation. Within 24 hours of release, I was back using ice and selling drugs.
I ended up in another drug-fuelled, abusive relationship and back in jail. Once released, I started driving while disqualified and got caught. I was arrested again and was going to jail.
I tried to take my own life in the watch house. Thankfully, I was found and taken to hospital. I was granted a place at Moonyah (The Salvation Army’s Recovery Services Centre, Brisbane) and arrived there on 5 December 2016, completely broken.
The Salvation Army began to love me back to life. I attended church at God’s Sports Arena and found a connection with my loving God. Faith filled the void ruling my existence.
All that brokenness began to heal and I began to pray, finding a wonderful support network inside The Salvation Army.
I started rebuilding relationships with my family and friends. I was a different woman, but I knew I would be going to prison. All I could do was pray.
I attended court, with my parents and Salvation Army supporters there with me. The judge, however, agreed that, with all the hard work I had put into turning my life around and with the support I had from family and The Salvation Army, I posed no threat to society. I was sentenced to three years with immediate parole.
I had been given a second chance. I graduated from the Moonyah Bridge Program in August 2017.
The war still rages, but I no longer do life alone. An Army fights with me.
My son now lives with me and we have begun a new life. He has his mum back. The Salvation Army saved my life.
First appeared in Others magazine