The right home and community is giving Jessica the stability to turn her life around
Jessica has survived unimaginable trauma but a new home with Home in Place is giving her another chance to rebuild her life.
Adopted at birth, a child of rape, Jessica survived physical, sexual and emotional abuse as a child and an adult, and at one point was kidnapped at gun point. To cope with her trauma, she turned to drugs and alcohol.
Today, Jessica is 14 months sober and living with her dog in a Home in Place townhouse in NSW. She credits having a safe and appropriate home with support from Home in Place staff and other community organisations, helping her get her life back on track.
She is attending a weekly computer skills course. She’s doing art therapy and is involved in Indigenous community and women’s groups. The Salvation Army is supporting her, and she volunteers her time to drive one of their community buses.
“When I speak to my trauma therapist, she says that she can’t believe, in such a short period, how far I’ve come,” Jessica says.
Jessica hadn’t lived in housing where she has felt safe for a long time. She first started living on the streets, aged 11. She describes her time living in other social housing several years ago as a living hell. Because of her trauma she didn’t have the right coping mechanisms.
“I was living in a complex with 38 other units with a lot of people who had mental health issues and were elderly and stuff like that. And because of the antisocial behaviours there, I didn’t fit into their category, which made my housing difficult for me to live there, with what was going on.
“And if you throw someone into an environment where there’s antisocial behaviour, where there’s domestic violence, you know, you go back to your old patterns of survival techniques and it’s usually drugs and alcohol.”
Her trauma was so severe that she went back living on the streets with her dog. She went to rehab to work out what she was going to do. But getting a roof over her head proved difficult because of her ongoing drug and alcohol issues.
With support from her solicitor and staff from a local women’s refuge, Jessica was able to find her home with Home in Place.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better. I can’t describe it. It was so good just to walk in here and just feel like I was home.
“Being in a stable environment, where you’ve got nice neighbours, makes a difference. I’m still trying to manage many issues but I’m able to self-regulate because my environment is safe. There are no anti-social activities, my neighbours are all beautiful.
“If you can break people out of subcultures of antisocial behaviours, then you throw them in the middle of community, they’ll adjust. It’s proven that they will adjust.
“Now I budget everything. When you’re stable, you can budget. But when you’re running here, running there, drugs, you don’t have stability.”
She says she appreciates that Home in Place staff come to check on her and let people know that they’re okay. She is also enjoying organised events such as Christmas in July, barefoot bowls, and the recent fashion show because it gets her out of her home and involved in community.
“I like how that they [Home in Place staff] bring their tenants all in to meet each other and they have that rapport with the tenants where we’re not just a number. It’s a real community. It’s like an extended sort of like family.
“Being able to have my dog here is a really good thing. There were times that I had to be separated from my dog, and that didn’t help with my trauma. She’s kept me alive.
“I owe Home in Place for giving me another start. This is the best of my life’s been in so long.
“I’m grateful that I’m able to build back my social skills. I want my confidence back. I want to be happy again.
“This is such a good opportunity and a good foundation for me to get my life together. I’d like to have a job. I’d like to be working part time. That’s my next move.
I’ll get there, I know I will, because I’m stable.”