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Housing Summer and Jesse

Summer and Jesse

Summer: So, do you want the full story? For the last five years, from 2010, I have suffered from domestic violence.

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Mum would hit me, and yell and scream at me. She was a drunk and a drug addict. I decided to leave that situation one night and I moved in with my ex-partner. From there things just went downhill. He used to hit me and do all sorts of awful things.

When I broke up with him last year, shortly after I had my youngest daughter, things got really bad. He became really abusive towards me, even though we weren’t together. I would go out to a nightclub with him even though I didn’t want to out with him there. He was threatening me in the middle of the street; all sorts of horrible things.

This is around the time I started talking to Jesse. We were friends. He was really like my knight in shining armour. He told me to leave. I had a place to stay, with my grandfather, and I was there for up to eight weeks. But he would abuse me, and treat me like a child.

He isolated me from Lilly, and wouldn’t allow me to parent her properly. He basically just stopped me from interacting with her; it was really awful and impacted on her a lot. She was given sweets and all that, non stop. Never anything healthy, besides a banana. He’d give her biscuits every time she went up to him, he’d give when she’d ask.

While I was living there, he found out he was terminally ill; he ended up taking that out on me. I left after he threatened to hit me. There was nowhere that I could go though… that was my last point of family contact I had.

Everything I owned. I had a suitcase. Two kind of baby bags full. I had the entire bottom of the pram full, I had two car seats. We had to get new clips for the pram because everything was snapping. The breaks on my pram don’t work anymore because of the amount of weight I had on them. 

And then when they finally found me accommodation it was nowhere near being suitable for me, let alone my girls. It was a caravan park with no running water, and no electricity at times. There was construction going on.

I went to Salvo Care and they put me in a hotel and, eventually, put me up in a house. I’m so thankful for that. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Jesse convinced me to stick around and just as I was walking on my way to the train station I got a call from Salvo Care, saying that if I came in and filled out some paperwork I might get a house.

I was absolutely ecstatic. I was so excited I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins. I was jittery and even Jessie could see it, I was shaking. I don’t know the word to describe it. We’d just said our goodbyes. One minute we were down and depressed and didn’t know what was going to happen with our future. And the next minute I could have a house.

I’m so thankful to the Salvos Without them I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t have been able to get any furniture without them. I’m out of a situation that wasn’t good for me and my kids, and even though I’ve lost people that I’ve loved along the way, my life is definitely better now.

Jesse: I was studying for year 12 during this time; it was really hard. We spent a lot of time trying to find services to help Summer. I had accommodation but a lot of the people living there were confrontational, there was a lot of drug use. I didn’t like being there. I spent a lot of time helping Summer out, food shopping, we kept trying to think of all these different options. We had to pull every straw out of the hat for homeless services. I was crashing at mates’ houses, I was crashing at Summer’s…

We went out to Salvo Care and I got told there’s a snowballs chance in hell being able to join Summer in the house, but we were so thankful that we were given this chance to live there together. It was mainly because Summer is such a good tenant and keeps the place clean and tidy and pays and all that and attended every meeting. It was a Godsend having a back up place. It’s helped alleviate a lot of stress. A lot of it was mainly there was not a lot of help out there. We’d exhausted all my resources; I had no workers who could think of anything else.

I haven’t lived with my parents since I was 14. Things with Mum have never worked – my parents have both been alcoholics; Dad is currently homeless. Mum is still an alcoholic, she’s not getting any help. My sister is the only person in my family who I kind of have contact with and she kind of burnt all her bridges with me a while ago. I didn’t really have anyone. I’ve been in and out of foster care and back into the family sometimes.

It’s difficult to keep friends when you’re in foster care. Last year when this was all happening I was coming up to exam time, I was trying to study and every night it would be her calling me up about her grandfather.

This entire time I was telling her he’s not being good to you, he’s trying to raise your children and it’s damaging. I was at Box Hill TAFE; they were very good and lenient towards me. I did get into uni this year and that was a lot of hard work. I got into Deakin to do teaching. We’ve had a lot of extra stuff we’ve had to do, we’ve had to go to court to get an AVO against Lilly and Ariels’ father. He’d keep texting her and abusing her.

Our life now? There was a lot of bad influences where I was, and I don’t really have them around anymore. Living with Summer is so great.
excerpted, as told to Katherine Goswell