AFTER eight years of never-ending abuse and fear, Marina* decided to leave home in search of a better life at just 12 years old.
The Dubbo resident has bravely shared her experience of homelessness with the Daily Liberal.
Marina said she could vividly remember, when she was four years old, sitting in bed with her mother who was being bashed by her boyfriend.
She said later her stepfather was extremely abusive and he threatened to kill them numerous times if they informed the police of his actions.
“He used to hit mum at night time and she used to scream for me to help her,” she said.
“Every night I sleep with great difficulty because I am in alert mode and I suffer nightmares. He has really mentally destroyed me.”
One afternoon, her stepfather came home and she asked him to leave because of his constant abuse to her mother and he did.
Her mother began to go downhill emotionally and drank to forget her worries. The teenager said she felt responsible for her mother’s actions.
She started to cut herself because she felt unloved by her mother, and left home in rebellion.
Months of “couch-surfing” at her friend’s house followed and then, aged 13, she said her boyfriend “brainwashed” to believe her mother really didn’t love her and she should stay with him.
She called the NSW Department of Community Service (DOCS) and informed them her mother no longer loved her and did not want her to stay home.
“I was stupid for leaving her,” she said.
Marina stayed with her boyfriend’s family for a few months then left after they began to ignore her.
She then moved to a family in Cobar for almost a year until the foster carers’ marriage broke down.
A period with a Wellington-based carer then followed, but she said they refused to look after her needs and kicked her out.
Packing her bags, she was sent to live with carers who were grandparents looking after few of their own grandchildren in Dubbo. But again problems arose as she said they did not respect her and she was forced to leave.
Marina met another boyfriend and decided she would move in with his family in Dubbo.
“I felt worthless, hated, dumped, ditched, depressed and lonely,” she said.
“I wanted to die, to disappear and to wake up from this nightmare.”
At school she said was bullied and called “emo and freak” because of her appearance and cut-marks on her arms.
Marina said being homeless took a toll on her studies at school and her relationships with others.
She started to skip classes and dropped out of school for a year because she became involved with the wrong crowd. She then started to drink her troubles away.
Marina told the Daily Liberal the worst experience was living in Dubbo with no family or friends and feeling lonely for long periods.
DOCS were not helpful and refused to take responsibility for her care, she said.
“I’ve never met my case worker and they are meant to catch up with you and have house inspections,” she said.
Marina said she now had a good relationship with her mother and sister, and she hoped to be reunited when they moved back to Dubbo in the near future.
“All I want is someone to love me and to live with a stable family,” she said.
Her message to those who were homeless was to trust there was light at the end of the tunnel and there were people who were willing to help.
“Over the years this situation has taught me to stand up for myself and to fight for what I believe in,” she said. “I’m determined to rise up from the darkness and take on the world day by day.
“I will succeed, I will be somebody and I will make everyone proud.”
* Name has been changed to protect her identity.
Marina says being homeless has taught her to be strong and determined. Photo: AMY MCINTYRE
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.