When ongoing violence and trauma escalated in her home, young mum Lily* was gravely concerned for her mental health and her ability to care for her baby daughter. She made the difficult decision to leave the only home she knew to escape the cycle of abuse.
In leaving she sought relief from the onslaught of violence and verbal abuse that her partner and his mother would unleash on her. With nowhere else to turn, she faced an uncertain future and the prospect of homelessness.
“I avoided speaking out to anyone about my circumstances out of fear of what might happen. I had tried to leave my partner a few times before but then he would threaten to take his own life,” she says adding that, “my own family is quite scattered. My mum passed away, and I don’t have the best relationship with my father.”
Lily moved into her aunt’s rental temporarily and then to a small two-bedroom home where her brother and his partner lived with a baby on the way. Neither had provided shelter long enough for Lily to get back on her feet. After reaching out to different services to no avail, she was in despair.
She was finally given a referral to our Mums & Bubs house where she remained with her daughter for the next ten months.
Although it felt strange to live with other mums and their bubs away from everything familiar, Lily soon started to reap the benefits of being at the house. The Mums & Bubs support workers had valuable tools, resources and guidance to offer her.
“Once you lose the routine with your baby, it’s quite a struggle to get back into one. I was given a referral to the Queen Elizabeth Centre sleep school which was very helpful. I wasn’t very good with managing my budget as well and I learnt to cut back and only spend on what was really needed. Then there were fortnightly sessions on breaking into the rental market which was very useful,” she says of the support she has received.
While at the house, Lily continued to stay in contact with her daughter’s father which proved difficult to tackle. “He would always verbally abuse me, and I would accept it as I wanted him in my daughter’s life. At Mums & Bubs, I learnt about setting boundaries, how to put my foot down and when to stop the conversation.”
There were other important aspects of self-care that Lily needed. Before Mums & Bubs, she had no time to spare for herself. Her home environment had not been conducive to establishing good sleep patterns for her daughter.
“I’d put her to sleep but then the TV would be turned on in her room and she’d wake up. I’d have to somehow put her back to sleep. I barely had time to wash myself, let alone get any sleep.”
This experience in addition to the abuse had taken a toll on Lily’s mental health. Once in the Mums & Bub’s house, she was urged to seek counselling and stay on a path to recovery. She reflects fondly on the firm direction she at times received at Mums & Bubs.
“At the end of the day, it’s because they see how much I’m able to achieve and want to see me do the best for myself and my child.”
Beyond life skills and much-needed support, Lily also found a listening ear whenever she needed to talk. Group sessions offered opportunities to discuss topics and share insights with other Mums & Bubs residents with similar experiences. “Just knowing that there was someone there when I needed to talk and knew how I felt, meant a lot. It’s so much better than having to keep things bottled up.”
Structure, routine and support at the Mums & Bubs house worked wonders for Lily as well as her daughter’s wellbeing. “We now have our routine. My daughter goes to bed when she’s told and sleeps much better. I can see the difference in her behaviour and I have a lot more time for myself.”
Lily now lives independently in a subsidised rental where she’s gradually building a life for herself and her daughter.
The life lessons and support from Mums & Bubs have strengthened Lily’s resolve. “Taking the leap to leave home was worth it. Even when things get rough, I know I have the strength to cope and that there are people out there who care and can help. I just have to work toward my goals slowly but surely and take things one day at a time.”
Our Mums & Bubs program provides safe,medium term accommodation for young mothers facing homelessness To find out more or make a tax deductible donation to the program please call our fundraising team on 1300 946 337.
*details changed to protect privacy