Despite a traumatic past of domestic violence and fear, Deb has now reached a place of peace.
Deb* first moved to Adelaide after leaving an abusive partner in Melbourne in 2006.
“There comes a point where you realise your life is in danger” she says, explaining the urgency of her move.
Deb discovered Hutt St Centre shortly after arriving in Adelaide. Her first visits were purely about being somewhere she felt safe. “I would just come to the Day Centre to catch up on sleep. I’d sit in front of the TV and sleep until Phill (a Day Centre staff member) would wake me up when it was time to go. It’s a terrible thing to be chasing sleep.” Deb explains the relief she felt at a time when she was only just coping. “You get past the point of fatigue” she says, explaining that she was fighting so hard mentally, she noticed her physical health was taking a hit to enable her mental fight to stay strong.
Deb’s fight was far from won in 2013 when she came back to Hutt St Centre, desperate to escape what had become another abusive relationship. Deb says it’s her compassion for others and instinct to nurture that has been the reason she finds herself in these situations.
Towards the end of this relationship Deb was in a really bad rut. She was sleeping rough and her mental strength was weakening. She lost a lot of weight due to the time spent walking laps around the city just to keep herself busy and her mind occupied. On weekends she would stay out at pubs and clubs until she was kicked out for falling asleep in the corner because she had nowhere to go. Then she would find her way over to the Botanic Gardens where she often slept during this time.
Deb recalls feeling trapped in her relationship because of her financial restraints, but a determination to seek a better life shone through and she made a plan. When her advanced loan from Centrelink was approved she left her partner and came to Hutt St Centre where a Social Worker was able to organise emergency accommodation and make sure she was safe.
“My ultimate goal was to gain private rental”, she says. With the support of a Social Worker, Deb was able to realise this dream. “Hutt St Centre gave me that sense of striving for the next day”, she explains. Reflecting on the difference that Hutt St Centre has made, Deb says “It’s is a place that provides empowerment for disadvantaged people, and does it without prejudice. It’s non-judgemental to the point where if someone who goes in there with such a low self-esteem, they will come out feeling like they can do anything they want to do in life. They are continually trying to plant that seed that says ‘never give up’.
Since setting up her home, Deb has engaged with education and training programs through Hutt St Centre and is now studying a Certificate IV in Legal Studies, with a big dream of getting into Parliament one day. “I’m toying with the idea of getting into politics. I want to go to Canberra. I’ve been reading up on female politicians in Australia and they all have law degrees, so I’m studying law!” she says with a big smile. Deb meets with a Hutt St Centre volunteer tutor every week who helps her keep on track with her study.
Thinking about her personal goals for the future, Deb jokes, “I never want to have a relationship again, except with dogs and cats and birds!” Only those she can nurture without the fear of getting hurt.
“Everything is falling into place now. The start of the year has been really great because it’s been really peaceful” Deb says. “Overall I am over the moon, rain or shine I am happy, and I won’t let anyone take that away from me anymore. They don’t have the right to do so.”
We are so happy that Deb has found peace and been able to make a better life for herself. We love seeing her in our weekly art group at the centre where she is developing a piece for our SALA exhibition later this year. Deb is so grateful to the community for the ongoing support that has allowed her to turn her life around. She has a real fondness for Hutt St Centre and everyone who makes it up. With a wide smile she says, “Have you felt how much character that place has?”
*Names have been changed out of respect for the person who has generously shared their story with us.