Homeless at 15, Maggie’s story
Every child deserves a safe home where they are loved and cared for.
Maggie lived in a constant state of fear. At only 15-years-old, she was traumatised by the abuse she was experiencing at home. Throughout her childhood, she was victim to ongoing abuse by her stepfather, brother and uncle.
Her mother knew about their actions but rather than defending or protecting Maggie, she became resentful towards her.
“My mother told me she hated me, because I stole her boyfriend. I was eight years old,” Maggie shared.
No child should live in fear
Children who are abused face extreme trauma. Young girls who are abused by adults lose their sense of self-worth, struggle to trust others, feel ashamed and believe the world is not a safe place.
Sadly, Maggie’s experience is not unique. In Australia one in six women and one in nine men reported experiencing physical or sexual abuse before the age of 15.1
A desperate escape
Maggie felt suffocated in her own home and feared her family.
Afraid she would be taken advantage of again, Maggie packed her school bag with her few belongings and fled.
She was terrified of her family and what they would do if they found her, but knew she had to escape.
With nowhere to go, she spent her first night homeless.
Maggie was terrified, she was hungry, tired and knew she needed help. She contacted our Strong Families, Safe Kids Advice and Referral Line who connected Maggie with our Targeted Youth Support Service.
Our Targeted Youth Support Service in Tasmania helps children and young people aged 10-18 years in Hobart facing multiple challenges such as child safety, youth justice or homelessness. Funded by the Tasmanian Government, this service aims to support children through trauma. With ongoing case management and a holistic approach, we help children and young people to regain their sense of self-esteem, develop healthy boundaries and learn to trust others again.
When our team first spoke to Maggie, it was difficult for her to share her situation. Scared that her family were “coming for her” Maggie struggled to disclose information about her life, worried they would find her.
Through patience and perseverance, our team earned her trust by letting her know we cared for her and her safety. Slowly, Maggie came out of her shell and opened up to us.
World of safety
Our team listened to Maggie’s needs and her dream of living independently. They assisted her to find part-time work and apply for affordable accommodation. Recently, she celebrated moving into her new home.
Today, Maggie’s life has been transformed.
With stability, a strong support network and a safe home, she feels ready to pursue her passion for art. Her road to recovery is still ongoing, but Maggie finally feels safe.
Know someone affected by domestic violence?
If you are experiencing abuse or violence, it is not your fault. There are support services that can help you. If your life is in danger, call 000. For 24/7 domestic violence counselling call the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
*Names changed to protect the people we help
1 AIHW: (2019). Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story 2019: in brief, 2019
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