TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains references to drug use and domestic and family violence.
Emma has rebuilt her life and her family after experiencing years of domestic violence and drug use, which led her to lose custody of her children. Her story of courage and resilience is testament to her commitment as a mother to beat her addiction and reunite with her children.
Emma’s story is shared here with her permission.
“Because I’d had abuse for so long, it became normal to me. He didn’t like the fact I had a lot of friends, there’d be this level of jealousy that became pretty deadly. If stuff started to fall apart or he hit me in front of the kids, I’d ring someone to come over with me because I knew it was going to end in tragedy.
Domestic violence wasn’t something that was acknowledged 14 years ago, when it started happening in my life. I was isolated, I had no support, no one to talk to – and I was abused. I didn’t have a chance at ever breaking the cycle.
It’s hard to see the violence when you’re in it. Because you had love for that person, and you have children with that person, and they aren’t who they were when you met, but you get stuck. So I started using a little bit of drugs to forget about the violence just for a moment. It’s the scariest way to live.
The level of shame I feel now for the life I put my children through is absolute. When you’re so entrenched in addiction and it’s all you know, you just keep going. I don’t know how I lived such a terrible existence for 17 years. I just went through the motions.
I’m nearly two years sober. It’s taken a long time to be proud of that because I was so ashamed of everything that happened. When my two girls were removed, I stopped using drugs that day.
Having nobody and feeling that level of grief and shame and anger and disappointment and hurt and broken heartedness, and having to reflect on all this stuff to get myself better, to get myself into a position to get my kids back – it was beyond hard work. It was the fight of my life.
Linking in with Samaritans was the best thing I ever did. The day I got my girls back, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
One of my biggest strengths after being sober for this long would be the positive influence I can have on someone else. After living the life I’ve lived, and surviving it, the most invaluable thing I can pass on is to mentor people through addiction. To say to them that they can get better, because I got better.
I didn’t know that I could be the person that I am today. I didn’t think I had it in me. I didn’t think life could be good. I heard stories of other people doing it but I thought I was too far gone.
But I did it and I’m so proud.
Christmas last year, when we were all together again, the girls woke up in my house and the level of excitement on their faces was better than all the presents under the tree.
No one really wants to ask for help, people can judge you, but Samaritans has never judged me. Nothing but arms open. You can’t help but think highly of these people."
If this story has raised concerns for you, immediate support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling service 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, or Family Drug Support on 1300 368 186.