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Kate's Story

With your help we can bring understanding, belonging and joy to the table this Christmas.

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Kate's Story

The sense of peace and comfort we experience at home is something that will resonate with many of us. It is at home where we form our earliest memories of being loved and cared for. It is the place that offers us a sense of familiarity, comfort and belonging. But what about those people who through family violence, relationship breakdown or mental illness find themselves without family, comfort, and a place to call home?

Kate didn’t have a happy and safe childhood. Her father had significant alcohol problems and Kate’s earliest memories are peppered with his violence and the need to stay quiet and as invisible as possible so as to not upset him. Turning to her mother for comfort and support could also be fraught with danger as due to her mother’s schizophrenia, Kate never knew how she would react or if she would even be home. Kate spent a lot of her childhood being left with her grandmother while both her parents were unable to care for her.

This cycle of abuse and uncertainty left Kate to grow up searching for love in all the wrong places and she turned to drugs and alcohol to help her cope with the pain of her past.

Kate met her husband when she was in her mid-twenties. She fell in love and married quickly, and soon after became pregnant. She gave up the drinking and drugs to protect her baby, but realised too late that her husband was not ready to raise a family.

The following years saw the two of them separate and get back together many times including a couple of years of stability where she became pregnant again. Last year was their 10 year anniversary, but it was not a celebration - Kate and her husband were in an abusive relationship. But despite this Kate was determined, for their children, to make her marriage work.

One week before Christmas last year, Kate and her husband got into a heated argument and Kate realised that things had to change. This life of abuse and uncertainty was not one she wanted for her children. She packed a bag each for her and the kids and left. She had no plan, little money and nowhere to go but just wanted them all to be safe and free of abuse and violence.

Kate’s grandmother had passed away several years earlier so Kate approached an old family friend who allowed them to sleep on the couches in the lounge room. Overnight Kate and her kids had joined the thousands of Australians who are couch surfing, which has become recognised as a form of homelessness.

Over the coming weeks, Kate took up drinking again; she lost her job and hit rock bottom. In desperation Kate turned to CatholicCare’s Alcohol and Other Drug Service for help. Together with her counsellor she started working on her recovery, with the goal of building a stable and loving home for her children to grow up in.

Kate’s recovery has been slow, but the support she has received from her counsellor and the CatholicCare team have helped to get her life back on track. While CatholicCare’s counselling focused on helping Kate deal with her drinking and her feelings about the abuse in her past, her counsellor also helped her to attend court proceedings, supported applications for housing and referrals for detox programs and other support services.

Thanks to the advocacy from her CatholicCare counsellor, Kate is no longer homeless. She moved into government supported housing in October and is now working with case managers at Child Protection Services to give her children access to their father in a safe and controlled environment.

The road to recovery has been long for Kate, but every step has brought her closer to her dream of having a real home with her children. This year, Kate’s children will spend Christmas with their mother in their new home. 

There are many more families like Kate’s who need a helping hand this Christmas. The demand for our programs and services grows each year and our resources are straining to meet the needs. We are motivated by our belief that everyone deserves to live life to the full, and to feel safe and secure in a home of their own. 

Christmas is a time of giving and belonging. We celebrate the gift of Jesus, born as our saviour. We celebrate the giving which marked the Holy Family, and all who received the Good News of Jesus’ birth. In this spirit we reach out to those in need, so they too will be able to experience joy, belonging and the fulfilment that comes with giving.

To donate please use our donation form or call 03 9287 5517.

Your gift will help another family have a brighter celebration knowing they are surrounded by those that matter most to them.

 

*At CatholicCare, we respect everyone who comes to us for help - and many are working towards a fresh start in life. So while these stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for understanding.

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