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13 July 2021
Rob discovers help and hope when he thought none existed
Words Rob Bennett
I was born in Prahan, Victoria, in 1970. My dad passed away when I was two. Hecommitted suicide, which, of course, had an impact on our family life.
Dad had run a couple of car yards. He’d also won a lot of money at the horse races as ayounger man, which got him into gambling. He’d gambled most of his money away, had lost his car yards and was also diagnosed with cancer. He was facing a lot of pressure and loss.
After he died, Mum and I moved to Brisbane. There were always a few guys hanging around, which made me feel like I would lose her. Even at a young age, I was worried, anxious and protective of Mum. Life wasn’t stable.
Mum married again. My stepdad used to hit her, and I witnessed that. I was only seven or eight, and there was nothing I could do. Nobody wants to see their mum getting hit. They split up when I was around nine.
I was a troubled child. I had a bad temper, rebelled against everyone and everything,got into fights at school and was always breaking the rules. I ended up in the Royal Brisbane Hospital for attempted suicide.
Mum sent me to the Daintree [Far North Queensland] for two years to live with my unclewhen I was around 11. It was nice to be out of the city, but my uncle was strict and angry, and I had to tiptoe around him all the time.
I returned to Brisbane and got involved in martial arts. The older men there led me down a path to strip clubs and bars.
I left school after Grade 10 and got involved with drugs, alcohol and gambling at casinos. I was injecting methamphetamines, LSD, everything except heroin. I went to jail for two armed robberies. I got out in 1996 and was on parole for 4ó years after that. I quickly went back to drugs and alcohol. I worked here and there. I was suffering from anxiety and depression.
At the age of 46, I decided I’d had enough of the whole scene. My best friend at the time had a heart attack in front of me, and I couldn’t revive him. People who knew him thought I had let him die to get his money. I was on the streets, homeless. It was bad.
I went to the Gold Coast and squatted with a friend, injecting meth and waiting to die. My stepdad found me and, by the grace of God, took me to live with him. For a year, though, I couldn’t come out of my room due to depression and trauma.
I finally went online and looked for help. I eventually contacted The Salvation Army’s Gold Coast Recovery Services (Fairhaven). I went to their Pathways program for those contemplating getting clean. I really believed that nobody could help me.
At one of the Pathway meetings, they spoke about God and Jesus Christ. Something happened to me there I had never experienced before. I felt that God introduced himself to me and called me. I left there changed. I now knew that God would help me when nobody else could.
I stayed at Fairhaven for 7ó months and completed the rehabilitation program. It was hard. My life of drugs, alcohol and abuse was taken away, and all the underlying issues were exposed. I asked God to search my heart and show me what was there.
I graduated and then went into the transition house and extended care program – all part of the Gold Coast Salvos. I finally got a housing commission unit and am blessed to be in a wonderful complex.
I am involved with the Gold Coast Salvos. I am a volunteer member of The Salvation Army Emergency Services team. I have also helped with several Red Shield Appeals, at the Blues on Broadbeach festival and drive the church bus. I have found faith, family and friends.
I feel called to bless others. I have empathy for those going through similar struggles because I know what it was like for me. The Salvos are selfless and loving people. They’ve helped me and many other friends and colleagues.
Thank God for the Salvos.