The Salvation Army URL has changed to salvationarmy.org.auFind out more
16 May 2022
A Google search of 'rehabs' began a life-changing journey for Chloe *
I was born in a remote country town, and my parents broke up when I was just three months old. My grandmother stepped in to help Mum look after me and my sisters, and when she passed away my mother withdrew into herself and my sisters began self-harming, often ending up in hospital. With the focus on them, my own deteriorating mental health went unnoticed, leading to a troubled youth of addiction, homelessness and domestic violence. It’s a long and twisted story.
I ended up living with my first boyfriend when I was 13 and he was 21. He was very abusive to me and used to lock me away. I escaped from that when I was 15 and then turned to drugs. My family distanced themselves from me because of my erratic behaviour and I began couch-surfing with my new boyfriend before we lived in the garage of an abandoned house.
When I became pregnant the relationship turned violent and my boyfriend was sent jail. I managed to get housing and a car before my daughter was born, but when my boyfriend was released from jail – before being sent back just three months later – he created so much chaos that I lost the house, and my daughter and I were deeply traumatised.
Suffering chronic mental health issues, I was taken in for a time by my aunt and uncle, but my baby was very clingy and needy, and I couldn’t cope with looking after her. Separated from my daughter and deeply depressed, I became suicidal. At this time, I was living in a storage shed but managed to keep my car, which had all my belongings inside. I was devastated when the car was stolen and set alight. All my clothes, my photos, every last sentimental thing I had was burnt in that car and my life was a nightmare for about four years after that.
On a downward spiral and facing the possibility of jail time, I received a heartbreaking wake-up call when a close friend of mine was murdered. I knew that if I kept going down the path of trying to numb my pain and trauma with drugs I would end up the same way. So, I decided to look up rehabs on Google and ended up getting accepted into the Salvos’ William Booth House addiction recovery service in Sydney.
Although I was sceptical about whether they could help me, I was determined to give it a try. I knew at this stage it was my last hope and was scared that my life would be nothing but drug addiction and trauma if it didn’t work out.
I made strong connections with people at William Booth House, who connected with me and shared my pain, providing me with the strength to overcome my trauma. It was such a lovely environment to be in and the support I felt from so many people was absolutely amazing.
Since completing the William Booth program there’s been a massive turnaround in my life, and I now enjoy waking up each morning. I’ve been clean for nearly 18 months and I’ve got my own house in Sydney. I have a great relationship with my daughter and family, visiting and staying with them regularly, and I’m looking at shared custody with my aunt.
I help out at The Salvation Army Sydney Congress Hall as much as I can, doing volunteer work. It keeps me going and it keeps me sane – they couldn’t get rid of me if they tried! Every Tuesday night I join fellow volunteers to take food, blankets and other necessities to the city’s homeless.
I’m also studying to be a youth worker and my goal is to help young people the way I wish I’d been helped before things escalated out of control. The kids will see someone firsthand who has been to hell and back and who can absolutely resonate with what they’re experiencing.
It’s safe to say that if it weren’t for my stabin-the-dark search on Google and seeking help at The Salvation Army when I was at the lowest point in my life, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
* Name has been changed