Trigger warning: Readers are advised that the following article contains references to domestic and family violence.
It went on for many years. I tried to get away a few times.
It was a very controlling relationship. There were calls to the police, but I never actually charged him for anything. I was embarrassed that I didn’t seek proper help.
He was never violent to the kids, but I got worried that one day it would be my last day. So I knew I had to make a decision. I knew I had to leave.
When I eventually got away with my three kids, no real estates would give me an opportunity because I had no recent rental history.
I spent a month at my mum’s house but my sister’s family lived there as well and there just wasn’t any stability.
Someone told me to go see Samaritans, and I did. I’ve never been to those sorts of places in the past. It was a big step, and it really opened my eyes.
I couldn’t believe how much support I was given. I don’t think people realise how much empowerment Samaritans gives people.
When I got into the women’s refuge I didn’t know what to expect. But I felt so supported and welcome. It’s really changed life for me and the kids. It’s given us our lives back.
In my past relationship I was very isolated, I had no support. I know how it feels to have nobody. Now, since I’ve left, there is so much more peace.
We just moved into a transitional house for nine months, which will help me build up a rental history, and then Samaritans will help me look for a private rental or get into social housing. It’s a good steppingstone.
It does worry me that after this I’ll be looking for rentals that are sky high in price. It’s so hard to get into housing and even find a rental you can afford, especially when you have children. When you pay all the bills there isn’t much left to live on.
When I’ve rented [in the private market] in the past, way back, it was hard. Once rent and electricity comes out and I buy food, I didn’t really have anything left over.
I know so many people waiting for social housing. Housing is just hard altogether.
It’s a really big issue in Taree, there’s a lot of people who can’t afford housing here. It can be hard to find work, and without stable housing, it’s chaotic. People find it hard to afford a rental, or they’re waiting for public housing. If you’re a single mum with multiple kids, it’s not easy with the real estates. There’s a lot of families that live together, and doing that in small houses is just chaos.
My mum works, earning minimum wage, and she rents and it’s even hard for her to make ends meet.
My grandmother is on the aged pension and lives in public housing. I take her shopping every Thursday and after she buys what she needs, and puts a bit of money aside for bills, there’s nothing left.
We need more support systems in place because it’s hard for people to reach out for help. It’s a real issue on the Mid North Coast.
I see the difference in my kids now that we have our own stable home. It builds better families, I’ve seen it from my own experience.
The kids are happy. Very happy. They are a lot more at ease and peaceful. Even just their self-esteem, everything has changed.
With the way my life was before, If I hadn’t reached out to Samaritans for help I don’t know if I’d be here today.
Rebekah has shared her story as part of the 2020 Rental Affordability Snapshot. Click here to learn more and read this year’s report.
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 Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.