Our story is a photography exhibition published online and on social media platforms, of survivors of mental illness, abuse & assault to raise well needed awareness and support of all individuals suffering in silence.
 One way or another, all survivors have experienced something we can relate back to each other. Here we have a support network for our stories shared. Our story is a non-for profit photo session created by T R Imagery to raise awareness and share the stories of survivors and the impact our story has taken on our lives. This series will be promoted over social media to reach thousands of individuals. My aim in the future is an exhibition in the local community of the Snowy Mountains and the A.C.T. 

 This to me isn’t just any photo shoot, this is a place where we can be vulnerable and ourselves - as I have been assaulted, abused and have suffered with mental illness for almost 10 years. This is something that I do not want anyone to feel alone in, as we aren’t alone, we have each other and that’s important as we can all relate in our similar ways. Now created, this series is one that I hope will continue on for a long time with more and more people joining us and sharing their story with the world as it’s not something that needs to be hidden anymore. Our stories are what we’ve lived through and SURVIVED, these events are what have shaped us as individuals we are today and no one can take that away from us.

Episode 1~ Teyarnea

“Adam’s gone to Heaven”. At 9 years old, those aren’t the words you’d ever expect to hear at around 10pm on a school night. At 9 years old you’d never even think of losing your older brother. 11th of August 2009, I heard the most heartbreaking four words.. “Adam’s gone to Heaven”. I don’t remember much at all from the rest of 2009, and the next 3 years were a blur. I didn’t show how much I struggled because when the rest of the family were struggling we needed someone to be strong, right? I took on that role, that someone was me. It wasn’t until high school when I finally had a break down in front of a school teacher. There were kids telling the principal I was self harming in the toilets, and that’s when it was clear I needed help. I then took an overdose during year 8. This is what it took for the public health system to finally admit a “very distressed and unstable teen” into an acute psychiatric facility 5 hours away from home. It was the worst but best experience of my life. But the story doesn’t end there. The thing they don’t tell you, is how to grow on the outside; away from the facilities and full time care. I’ll admit, I was petrified to come back to reality because I didn’t have the protection of white walls, security doors, and bars around the outside area. They let me back into society because we thought I was better and stronger. Lets just say, I fell down again..and I fell down hard! School was a major factor which lead to me leaving in year 10. The self harm continued, I was smoking endlessly, and in all honesty, I didn’t give a shit what happened to me or what anyone thought of me. Everyone already thought I was a “freak”, so I stopped trying. The idea of suicide became very real again; to the point it lead me to another week in an acute psychiatric facility, while they got my medication sorted. After this, I felt safe again. The last year of school was the worst; multiple trips to emergency due to self harm, and handfuls of pills because I just didn’t give a fuck. I lost my sense of worth and want/need to be around. Add five years and things have still been rough. I was in 2 abusive relationships that really fucked with me mentally. March 2018 I tried to commit suicide. I was selfish, I just wanted it to end. It meant I was in control. As soon as I took all those pills, I was in a state of instant regret. I struggle now to remember doing this. I was in a blur. I didn’t know what I was doing, and that is the scary part about all of this. It was a major eye opener. I almost lost my battle to this illness due to an overdose that had me rushed to Canberra Hospital. This was the wake up I needed to really work on myself and receive all the support and help I needed and continue to need. I did this not only for myself, but for everyone else around me. It’s not only a struggle for me, but my friends and family rode it with me, every single step of the way. It affects them as much as it does me. There is light on the other side. Remember, we all have our rough days; but it’s okay not to be okay. Seek help from a loved one or your local GP.

Episode 2~ Millie


My story starts at the tender age of 5. It was November 1997\. A day that is imprinted in my mind so very clearly since. Being pulled out of school was something very unusual, for myself and my brother. It had not happened before. As kids we were just excited to be getting out of school early! A family friend came to pick us up, she then proceeded to take us to the lolly shop and brought us some treats. How exciting! Or so we thought... We then continued on home to what seemed to be an empty house but dad's car was there. Something wasn't right. Maybe mum was a little bit sicker than yesterday? I dumped my school bag and went racing to mum and dad's bedroom before anyone had realised. As I approached the room there was mum, dad kneeling on the floor in a mess with the pastor from our local church standing with a hand on his shoulder. It was at that moment I had realized mum was gone. I had no control over the outburst that followed as I was being dragged away by our family friend away from this horrible site. She tried her best to explain everything gently but what good is that to a child who has lost their mum..? I remember the day we said our final goodbyes. Most people assume a 5 year old wouldn't understand a funeral. I understood very well. I remember sitting up the front of the church staring at a box through my swollen tear filled eyes, knowing that we were saying goodbye to my beautiful mum. Then the moment came to bury her, oh what a horrible time this was! I threw a picture I had drawn for her in her favorite colour and some bark, as I was told it was time to go. “Say one last goodbye, Millie", dad said as he scooped up his shattered daughter. I could not contain any emotions at that point still and continued to wail for my mum! A very vivid traumatic memory for me to share but something that plays through my mind nearly on a daily basis. I struggled all my life allowing anyone to become too close to me since. I have lost some amazing people in my life due to this, family included. This is a subconscious protection mechanism that I have developed to protect myself from either hurt or harm. As a teenager I took up a lot of self-destructive habits. The first being self-harm. Self-harm was a go to when I wasn't feeling anything. It had allowed me to feel. Silly you may think but when you become so numb inside what else to you do to prove to yourself that you are still human and alive? My self harm habits become quite addicting and continued down some very dangerous paths. I managed to stop damaging my body by choice or so I had thought... Alcohol was a dear friend of mine through-out my late teenage years and early 20's. This in turn was causing me some quite strong blackouts where my self-harm would continue from that state. Nothing scarier than the first time you awake in the morning to find large amounts of blood, poorly cleaned up and cuts up your arms. I thought I was done with this!? How can I control something that is happening when I am drinking, to cope? Stop drinking was the only option. Obviously. After the drinking had stopped, the blackouts continued. I was in a very poor mental state which needed serious intervention. I had attempted multiple times to take my life with little success. This involved a number of stays between Bega and Goulburn phsyciatric facilities. Alot went on behind the walls of those facilities most of which has become quite a blur to me now. Things improved for a little while and life seemed to be getting back on track after countless hospital stays, medication changes, the multiple stays in Phsyc units and being picked up by the police in a psychotic state. There is a lot more I could include but it simply came down to the fact that I was a complete danger to myself and at times to others as well. The self hate I had for myself was so extreme! My life became quite out of control. To the point where I had lost control again to blackouts. My mind would switch itself into auto-pilot as things would become too much and then there was no telling what was going to happen. I became very sick from very extreme self-harm, which I cannot go into detail about as the details are lost to me. I was released from a 4 month stay which was between a psychiatric hospital and a rehab facility. I had come home with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Dissorder and Post Traumatic Stress disorder. This was hard enough to grasp..On top of that being institutionalized for that amount of time as a 20 year old was very tough, coming home and having control over my life again was awesome and was also a little daunting! I was lucky enough to have a loving home to return to, even though my mental health had tried so very hard to push them away! Things were going so well! No self-harm, I feel pretty good. I have found a really special man. So I stop taking all my medications within 6 months of coming home from rehab. This didn't seem to be the worst idea. I still felt ok off my medications. I fell pregnant with our beautiful little girl in 2016\. Being pregnant was amazing for my general health and my mental health. I had never felt so normal, so happy! Our daughter Lucy was born 27/6/2017 we were so in love. Such a tiny little human all of our own to love and care for! How scary and amazing all at once! To say I coped well as a new mum would be a lie. I really, really struggled to build an attachment to our little girl and struggled with the fact that I need to step up for little Lucy, I am not sure I am good enough. She deserves so much better than what I can give. Slowly but surely though things snowballed out of control once more. Here I go again pushing away the people in my life that I need the most! Working became nearly impossible, living daily life seemed nearly impossible! Fast approaching mum's 21st anniversary and the year that I out live her, I just fell apart. Nothing made sense. How can I be a mother when I just out lived mine? Why do I deserve to live any longer? My mind raced day in day out. Can I keep going? It caused my anxiety to peak to a point where it caused my mind to switch to auto pilot and take control for me because my head once more. I could not handle anything, not even basic life. This happened when I drank but i have not been drinking heavily since leaving rehab 7 years ago. I could count the amount of drinks I had had in that time on one hand. So why am I blacking out again? This is scary, I have an 18month old. I am not well enough to be her mum right now. So, with a lot of love and support from my partner, we decided it was safest for me to be admitted for extra help. This was in late 2018, not long before Christmas. I stayed away from my baby and my life for another week. That was one extremely difficult week but it helped me realise how much I do love my little girl. It made me realise that if I stop taking my medications that were WORKING then everything will fall apart and I will end up heading back to where I started. It also made me realise that it is ok to fall apart sometimes but build up supports and not push them away. We are all trying our hardest and sometimes we just can't keep up. My story is ongoing from here, a daily battle that I am slowly learning to manage and cope with better. All my supports are my foundation to staying strong. I must remember to keep these people close.

Episode 3~ Tyson


Hey guys to start this off my name is Tyson Rosenbaum-Callaby. Thank you for taking the time to read this and hear my story, so let’s begin. I was a normal teenager, rebellious… I knew everything, the normal teenager stage of life. This particular time of my life I was 15 years old, I was angry and upset with life and how things were going so I went to the house of a man I knew, he was in his late 50s early 60s - he was supplying me alcohol and smokes. (In my head he was an awesome bloke at that point, what rebellious 15-year-old would say no to that, certainly not me.) As I got more and more tipsy, he ushered me into his room & this is where I started to feel a little bit off in the stomach but didn’t think anything of it at first. It was at this point, my life changed for a very long time. He dropped his dressing gown, completely naked underneath, and told me that if I were to say anything to anyone, he would hurt my family & make me a witness to it. I swallowed my saliva in fear of what was happening and what was going to happen. He pushed my face into his groin area and told me how he was going to punish me because I had been a “bad boy”. At this point I was frozen in shock; I knew exactly what was going to happen to me. I won’t go into the details of what happened, but I was raped & assaulted by this “man”. My 15-year-old self was silently crying, I had no idea what to do. I always said if this were to happen to me, I would kick, bite, fight back – I’d do anything to get away, but when faced with this, I was frozen, I could not move. The assault lasted for about 4 hours. I could do nothing but lay there & take what was happening to me. He again threatened to hurt me and my family if I was to ever say anything. As soon as it was over, I ran. I ran for that front door; I ran for my life. One of my mates lived a couple doors down from this man’s house. My mate used to let his 10-year-old son go to this man’s house alone. I ran inside and warned him to NEVER let is son go there again! I got home & I sat in my room in the corner off my bed crying and cutting myself because I had just told someone what had happened and I thought that my family was next, that I had put them in danger. I couldn’t stop self-harming, I felt disgusted in myself because of what I had just gone through. I started having thoughts of suicide because I felt I would be better off that way and I won’t have this happen to me ever again if I’m gone; I acted on those thoughts, I attempted to take my life. The next day I woke up and continued my day as normal as I could. I was confronted by my mate’s mum that afternoon about the things I said the night before. I was told I was a liar because I hadn’t called the cops or told anyone else. I got angry & my brother snatched my phone off me & was told the story of what happened. He lit up with anger almost instantly. I panicked and begged him not to say or do anything. We walked home, my brothers mate went to my house and told my parents what had happened. My brother went to this “mans” house to confront him and I called the police as I feared what was going to happen. I told them everything. They took the man in to the police station, I gave my statement and got checked out by the hospital. One year later, I went to court and I was told they didn’t have enough evidence to convict him for what he did. All he got was a lifetime AVO & if he ever approaches me, he will go to jail. Still, nobody believed me. To make things worse, I was trying to figure myself out; I wasn’t sure if I was gay, bisexual or straight; I was confused. I was tormented by one kid for what happened to me; saying “I should have enjoyed it because I was “gay”’. For years and years, I would cut myself, and continue to take my life; constantly blaming myself. To this day I know it’s not my fault, but I still feel that if I hadn’t of gone to his house, it wouldn’t have happened. It has taken me me a very long time to put this behind me and bury it deep. 9 years later and I still feel pain from this, it will never go away and never get easier. I’m now 24 years old, I have 5 beautiful children and an amazing partner who, if she didn’t walk in my life 2 years ago, who knows where I would be right now. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I can only hope that I have shown people that they are not alone, that it is a very real thing and it is out there; and that its ok not to be ok.

Episode 4~ Kylie

I don't think there is a significant point in my life where my mental health went bad, looking back it’s probably been nearly a decade. I do know for sure that it has only just started to improve over the last year though. As i don't want this to be super long im just going to share of my major life events that have shaped who I am today. So when i was 14 i met a boy and i thought i was 'in love' and after a week of dating him, we slept together and i know for a fact he genuinely cared about me but when my parents found out they weren't happy as you would expect, they handled it terribly, so between that and the fact that i ditched school to see him after i was told to stay away my dad was very angry. I was told they didn't want me anymore and that they should just put me up for adoption or send me to a relative. That hurt! I had my first ever thought of suicide that day and it was the first time i tried to hurt myself, on top of all that i had my father put his hands on my throat. A few days later i organised to sneak out and meet the boy, i told him what had happened and he convinced me to not go home and stay with him. We lasted the day then they found us, the boy yelled at my dad for putting his hands on me, dad told me if he hadn’t done that he would have knocked me out. Over the next few months I had at least three guys leave me for another woman so my self esteem was already very low at this point and i started self harming. After a few months i went to school one day and my favourite teacher saw, the school told my parents and they were almost angry but they didn’t ask why or anything they just told me i wasn’t allowed to wear my bracelets anymore. Over the next few years I had one boyfriend in particular who didn't help my mental state at all. He cheated on me multiple times, he told one girl that I was dead so that she would find him a girlfriend and he would encourage me to cut myself. In saying that him wanting me to do it made me stop cutting, i then began to scratch myself. At this point i thought i was ugly and fat and that no one wanted me i would skip meals and i wouldn’t leave the house without make up, even just to go swimming. Then when i was 17 I met a boy online (Jesse) and he seemed perfect he took me out and it was amazing, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy and for the first few weeks he was. We started seeing each other more often and then I got sick, i have Crohn’s disease and I was losing weight, I was barely eating, I was in constant severe pain and he was awesome he helped me and got anything I needed. This to me made him the perfect boyfriend even though my parents thought otherwise, they saw something in his behaviour which looking back now between the constant breaking up, getting back together again and just little things here and there that I should have seen it coming too. We were together for almost 3 months when he and my dad had a huge fight and of course I stuck up for my boyfriend and then I made this decision a few weeks later that it would be best for me to move out of home. This was because of multiple things, my dad and me not getting along, me being so quiet and closed off around everyone and the fact that there are more job opportunities in cowra with my boyfriend. Now this was a week or so after i turned 18 so legally they couldnt do anything but they still told me no that they would rather me move to sydney where i dont know anyone then move to cowra where i had jesses family and my 2 half sisters. Another few weeks go past and i try to push the subject again and tell them i want to leave and instead i end up basically telling dad that im not happy there because of him, i was so worried about telling him that i ended up bruising my arm from griping it so tight. That night i bought a bus ticket and caught the bus to cooma where my boyfriends parents picked me up and i left with them. Now i wish i could tell you that it all got better from here but it got so much worse. Let me just start with my boyfriend was an ass and he didnt start showing me just how much until i started living with him and his family. It was just little things at first calling me names when we would fight constantly on and off and then him and his 'best friend' reconnected and he started acting more like she was his girlfriend instead of me. It wasnt like they were making out or anything it was just things like he would treat me terrible and then go have fun and joke around with her and he was going to buy a house with her. Then after about 6 months of me living with him he told me that he had slept with her and then he kicked me out but as it wasnt his house his mum was going to let me stay until i got somewhere else all while this was happening she was at his house. I just remember feeling so mad and upset at myself, mad because i knew it was happening but everytime i brought it up with him he would call me crazy and i was upset because i had gotten myself in that mess and now my world was falling apart. So i scatched my arm to the point of almost scaring myself. About a week later i organised to stay with friends, we went out drinking and actually having fun (Jesse didn’t like me drinking, when I would go he would call me and abuse me to the point of crying in the bathrooms). I went home with a friend who was a boy and I slept with him. Jesse called me in the morning wanting to talk and I felt bad so I told him what happened and he abused me for cheating and called me a slut and a bunch of other stuff. I felt like I had screwed everything up and I hated myself for it (I know now that it wasn’t my fault but at the time I was too blinded by him that I didn’t see that). I attempted to take my life that day, I took every pill I had and it wasn’t until about an hour afterwards that I regretted it. By that point it was too late and I was too scared to say anything to my friend who was now my house mate. Thankfully they didn’t do anything damaging and I was fine well physically anyway. I then got back with him (I don’t know why) and at this point he started to not only abuse me verbally and emotionally but on occasion he would get physical. It started small at first he would throw things and then he started grabbing my shirt or arm when we would fight. About 2 months after the cheating incident his sister was getting married and he took the best friend instead of me, that obviously hurt, at this point we were constantly fighting and then a few weeks after the wedding he broke up with me and asked the friend out. She rejected him so he came over to mine, he was that angry he grabbed me by the neck, he soon realised what he was doing, let go and apologised to me and again for some stupid reason I still took him back. After that nothing got better, it was getting to the point where I would get so frustrated with him over the phone that I was hitting myself, I broke one of my phone cases from gripping it too hard and I would just scream and cry when I was on the phone to him, or even worse I would Chanel my emotions again through self harm. Skip to November 2018 I was turning 19 and we were going out to dinner at the club, when we got there he was just being a pain in the ass so I went and got a drink and like I said he doesn’t like me drinking so he was mad and started calling me names like a slut and whore, just being derogatory to the point where my house mate had a go at him for the things he was saying in a restaurant surrounded by people. I didn’t want to be treated like that in front everyone so i walked to a quiet corner and tried to talk to him, he just kept going and I got so frustrated that I slapped his arm a few times, now I know I shouldn’t have but that was the first time I’ve hit anyone that wasn’t in a joking manner not anticipating that he’d retaliate and elbow me in the throat. After that we went back to his where we broke up and I finally left. Two weeks went by and I’d made no contact with him. I can certainly say now that I wish I’d kept it that way. When I did instead of an apology he picked me up, drove me out to the bush and tried to sleep with me. I said no because he started seeing some new girl that he claimed he wasn’t with, he kept pushing until eventually I caved. This happened multiple times over the next month or so and every time I would try to say no or push him off he would just try harder, in the end he always got what he wanted. I of cause told the girl the first few times it happened and even she stayed with this manipulative, sorry excuse of a man. It was to the point the only way I could get him to leave was to piss him off by telling him the truth, that I didn’t want him anymore and that I didn’t love him. Which unfortunately for me, was kind of a lie. It’s weird how you can love someone but absolutely despise of them and there ways at the same time. Things are better now that he has left me alone, he still tries to contact me from time to time but I don’t give him that satisfaction. I am stronger then that now! As for my parents my mum is amazing, my relationship with my dad is complicated but we are ok. My tattoo as shown in the photos are a reminder of everything I’ve overcome and a daily visual reminder of what’s made me the person I am today.

Episode 5~ Madeleine

My story begin in 2011 when I was 19 years old I met a guy I thought was great although there were many red flags I didn't notice or was blind to them, six months into the relationship I was pregnant with our first child and that is when the physical abuse started which included hitting, kicking, choking and sexual abuse, I was isolated from my friends and I did my best to hide it from my family - on my due date I was choked that badly I passed out and was kicked in the legs and stomach multiple times- I did luckily have a healthy baby a week later, the abuse continued after the birth the worst of it was my lips being pulled apart to the point it tore all the skin and my lips are now permanently scared - the pain was worse then any beating and at that point I called the police - he was jailed for 6 months but upon his release I believed or fell for his lies that he had changed and let him into my life again, through assault I had another pregnancy and luckily another healthy baby - when I had my 2nd child while in hospital this man emptied my bank account and my oldest child's account which destroyed me but still I stayed, the abuse continued and the beatings got extreme when he started using the drug ice resulting in wrist injuries and injuries in my mouth which I will have for the rest of my life, the final straw was when he put a knife to my throat and was pushing it against me and punching me in the stomach and he threatened to burn my children alive, that night I was one of the lucky ones and was able to get to the police - he was jailed for close to two years within that time my father passed away and I knew I had to fully leave which took so much strength, upon his release I was stalked and had my house broken into and my photos stolen he was jailed again, It happened for three years. I'm publicly sharing my story in the hope other women or men get out before its to late it took my father dying for me to gain the strength my mother had just buried my father she did not need to bury her daughter which she feared daily, people ask why I didn't leave- I feared shame and was scared he would hurt my family or friends, I now suffer PTSD (Post traumatic Stress Disorder) and night terrors but with help I cope well and my children are safe and loved Once a victim, always a survivor

Episode 6~ Amiee

Depression has effected me since year 6, the swallowing feelings have come and gone. Events throughout my life have caused it to build up like the tragic car accident at that age which triggered the depression. The person who lost their life was a positive male role model in my life and I started self harm from the age of 12 after the traumatic funeral. Hiding sharp objects and cuts on my arms and wrists from my mum and dad wasn’t really emotionally present. Age 13 starting high school, a completely different dynamic, making new friends and coming into a new town meant I only had one close friend at the time. Girls that I thought were friends; stabbed me in the back not literally just school yard bullies that ridiculed me for being different. I was going through hormonal changes and rarely got along with my dad. What I really needed was a positive role model who would understand my scenario and the feelings that I was going through but coming home there would just be explosive arguments, physical and emotional abuse, which made home life difficult. To have someone there to care about me would of helped with my depression but I felt there was no one to help which seemed like I was on my own. No one to talk to or feel comfortable to freely expressing my emotions and feelings. The physical and emotional abuse I suffered over the next 3 years impacted me negatively to the point of developing anxiety and PTSD. When i was pushed to run away from home at age 14. I hadn't seen any of my friends in weeks after a family holiday and wanted to sleep over at a friends house which lead to an argument with my mum. When i walked out the front door my dad told me "good don''t fucking come back". My heart sank and I began running, tears streaming down my face thinking they don't want me in there life. I stayed at a friends house that night and the following afternoon the police arrived, my friends told me I had to go. I had half a mind telling me to run and jump over the back fence and never look back. Out the front Dad instantly told me to get in the car. The events that followed when I returned home that day were brutal, a kick up the ass whilst walking up the stairs being told to go to my room. Several blows to the stomach in the bedroom I still live in, whilst my mother stood and watched, followed by being told "if you ever do that again ill kill you". I was told I was grounded for five months and so with that I hurt and I cried and I shut myself in my room. Being forced to eat dinner at the family table as if nothing had happened and I didn't have sore guts and despise the pair of them. I would walk to and from school everyday without ever spending extra time outside with friends for months. I wasn't even allowed to return back to my casual job, let alone call them to tell them I cannot work anymore. At the age of 15 I met my first boyfriend. I finally had a good reason to ask to leave the house on the weekend. After he broke up with me I sent him a message on Facebook and his new girlfriend started to bully me at school. Getting pushed and shoved and told i'm a slut and to stay away from him. Several incidences happened along these lines where I was unknowingly stepping on toes and I got punched in the face on school grounds and bashed on my way home from school. I no longer felt safe at home or at school and felt even more alone then I already was. Years of untreated stress, anxiety and depression went by and I began to have outburst of anger, when my mum asked me if I needed professional help. From here I saw my first psychologist and when I started a new relationship I stopped therapy, i thought I was happy. After we broke up years later, at the age of 18, my life began to spiral out of control with reckless lovers and substance abuse I was constantly trying to escape my hurtful reality and running from a traumatic home where my feelings were constantly invalidated and ridiculed for being overly emotional. At this point I went back into therapy where I was diagnosed but not treated for Borderline Personality Disorder. I wasn't told a lot about my condition and how to cope let alone be medicated for it. More years went by of whirl-wind relationships running from one abusive guy to the next suffering from severe malnutrition, several concussions, emergency hand surgery and a car accident and I still couldn't control my own anger. I started to self harm again with serious suicidal tendances. In 2018 at age 22 I had my first admission to the psychiatric ward due to fibromyalgia, severe stress and adrenal fatigue. My boyfriend at the time left me alone the night after I was released and once again feeling abandoned I tried to take my own life. An ambulance was called and I went straight back to hospital for yet another month of therapy. Here Is where my healing journey finally begun. I got the right medication, treatment and learnt how to cope with my condition. Several admissions later and I'm still getting stronger, battling addiction and suicidal thoughts. Today I have forgiven those who have done wrong by me however I'm still haunted by PSTD and manic urges. My parents are now my biggest supporters and although home life is still difficult its getting better with time and communication. I have a wonderful psychologist through victim services who treats me whilst I go through Dialectical Behavioral Therapy which I am lucky enough to receive through a private hospital. And I finally found a guy I actually like and can take my time with, who treats me with respect and the only pain he causes me is my cheeks when I smile. The words I couldn’t say; Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a Gift that’s why it’s called Present. “Uncle George has passed away” Age 7

Episode 7~ Sarah

When I first met him he was very charming. First came the isolation from friends and family. Then came the control. Then the belittling and gaslighting. Last came the physical violence. By the end of our relationship I was not allowed to eat dinners, not allowed to sleep more than a few hours a night, not allowed to shower or bath for more than a few minutes. I’d had blood flicked deliberately across my face, he’d threatened to throttle me if I cleared my throat, he’d used his forearm against the side of my head to body slam me into a wall and pointed a loaded rifle at me and threatened to blow my leg off. When I finally managed to gather together what was left of myself and leave him, I reported the abuse to the police. The first time I tried, the policeman was dismissive. “So, he didn’t actually assault you?”. Yes he did. “No, I mean, you weren’t actually hurt.” I was bruised, terrified and traumatised. Isn’t that hurt enough? The second time I reported it I went to a different station and the policeman took the complaint seriously. He was charged with 11 offences. He paid the best criminal barrister in the city $50,000. I was cross examined for 6 hours. The prosecutor did her best, but she was clearly unfamiliar with the facts, didn’t ask the questions she should have, didn’t put the material in front of the judge. Why not? I assume because she was overworked. I know that she didn’t put one tenth of the hours into the matter that his lawyers did. How could she? She does hundreds of these cases every year. He was found not guilty and the AVO was dropped. It is my understanding that his firearms were returned to him. The legal system was as traumatic for me as the abuse. It put my recovery back months. I refuse to be silenced. I know what he did. I was there. The judge was not. I am a survivor.

Episode 8 ~Shelby

My name is Shelby Grace Holland, and I am an 18-year-old, year 12 student. In 2013 (age 12), I started having intense stomach pain that nobody could find a cause for. I visited doctors for years and had many tests before they found the cause. When I was 13, I found the self-harm Tumblr and Instagram pages and became obsessed. Towards the end of the year, I started to self-harm, and it became something like an addiction. I developed depression at this time and anxiety from trying to hide the cuts on my legs. I had my first relationship at the end of that year, and we both weren’t ready for it. We both were immature, didn’t know how to properly coexist together, and I was selfishly paranoid, but this did eventually cease my self harming. For two and a half years, we both stayed in an unhealthy and unhappy relationship until he made the call in April 2017. 2017 was both my best and worst year. I met people that would go on to be some of my closest friends, I rejoined the theatre (something I hadn’t done in years), started going to church and grew closer and closer to my best friend. My downfall came during the winter of that year when I was sexually assaulted by someone I had known for years in a place that was meant to be considered safe. I reported this to the police but took no further action, scared that a court case would only make things worse. I spiraled downwards during that time and took a term off of school. Rumors circulated about why I had left, which made me scared to go back to school. I eventually returned sometime during term 4. During term 4, I was indecently assaulted by the same person, but I dealt with it better this time, not wanting to repeat the cycle of the previous term and stayed at school. I changed schools in year 11, in a way to refresh myself and start again. I didn’t realize that my depression and anxiety had increased and formed into PTSD, which then manifested in the form of depersonalization. During 2018 I spent a week in the mental health ward, where I was finally put on anti-depressants, and I was forced to see a psychologist (something I had refused to do beforehand). At the end of the year, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. Which explained my mood changes (due to the extra hormones) and the pain I had been dealing with since I was younger. I had surgery at the start of this year to remove it. Throughout the years, there have been three people who have stuck by me. My current boyfriend, who I started dating in 2018 who has helped and supported me with all his patience and love. My best friend who was there for me during everything that has happened and who has tirelessly cared for me and made sure I’m alright, and my mother who has spent all of her time, effort and money to try and make me better and has only ever done what’s right for me, even if I don’t agree with it at the time.

Episode 9 ~Sky (Part 1)

I have had to overcome several different types of abuses in my lifetime. I guess it all started when I was two years old. When you think of parents you think of love, kindness and protectors. My biological parents were far from these. My biological parents were heartless, loveless, drugged up monsters. It was believed that sexual assault was involved but was never proven. But what was proven was severe neglect. If it was not for my great aunt (Nan) I would most likely not be here today to tell my story. Having this past childhood has left me judging everything (and I mean everything) I do in my life now. Has me questioning me in general. Why was I not good enough? Why am I not normal enough to have a normal family life? Did I do something wrong? My life did get happier for quiet a few years. Nan took us kids in and gave us a great childhood. Gave us beautiful clothes, so many toys, laughs, memories. She threatened us right. She loved us. But something went wrong when I hit the age of 13\. It was like I could never do anything right in my Nan's eyes. It started off small, arguments, yelling but as years went on it would get worse. Eventually it turned into hitting, kicking, dragging by the hair, saying things that would affect my mentally. It became that bad that I feared waking up.it became that bad the only time I was happy was when I was at school. This made me wish that I was dead. Made me feel like I wasn’t loved. Made me feel so alone. I took an overdose one day at school. But it just made very sick to the point the school took me to the hospital. (they didn’t know I took anything) but as soon as I got home, I got in trouble because the school didn’t call nan before taking me. She soon found out about the overdose and kept my tablets under close watch. I ran away lot long after this. We had another bad fight. I went to a friend’s house. Her parents took me to the police station, and I told them what was happening. The police called nan down to the station. They believed her that I was a “troubled child”. They told me I was to start respecting nan and not to make false stories to them again. That’s were my trust for everyone vanished. A couple years past and nothing changed. Everything was still the same. One day nan pricked my finger and drew one drop of blood. She said that drop of blood was all that was apart of me from her and now there’s nothing. This affected me bad. Does that mean I have no family anymore? Was there anybody that loved me or wanted me? This was the day I first cut myself. Months went on with the same old same old, but it was always progressively worse each time. I was starting to black out. I would do horrible thing causing harm, but I could not and still can’t remember doing any of it. But each time there was video proof of me doing these things. I broke my nans back, I knocked two teeth out, I choked my little sister till she started to turn blue. I eventually left again. Because I had no where to go or no one to turn to I ended up spending two weeks living under the Cooma bridge. Stealing little bits of food from Coles or woollies to get me by. One day I seen a friend at the park. We spent the day together. She invited me back to her home. Her family took me in and helped me get in touch with the right people to get me set up with a place to stay, a payment from Centrelink and still focus on my schooling. During the time I was on my own nan would not allow me to contact any of the family. She found out I was messaging on of my sisters one day and she replied to my message “do not contact my family, we don’t talk to trash.” I missed my family so much. I found small ways to make contact like catching their school bus in the afternoon. I felt so alone and had trouble coping with this. On several occasions I self-harmed to try and ease this pain and it work for a moment but once the pain was gone, I was alone again. A couple months past and my nan contacted me out of the blue for the first time since I left. She took me out for breakfast. When we meet up, we both spent a lot of time apologizing for everything we had put each other through. She explained to me she was scared. She was scared I would turn out like my biological parents and she thought if she was tough on me and kept me from friends apart from school time, I wouldn’t turn out that way. Nan took me back home to the family house. I spent time with the family. Nan soon told me she was diagnosed with lung cancer. For six months after this I spent a lot of my time at the family house, I put my studies on hold and I helped look after nan. Unfortunately, nan passed away. I have no anger for my nan. I understand her intentions and I will always love and miss her very much. I do wish however that she could see that I haven’t turned out like my parents. Losing nan was hard. I took an overdose which put me in hospital for three days. I never told the doctors or anyone what I did. When I was released, I went home and I went to take another overdose, but a friend showed up, seen what was happening. He got upset and disposed of the tablets. He saved my life however introduced me into pot. Looking back now it wasn’t the best thing to do because my life became so depended on getting my high. But it was my escape. Moving forward a couple of months my brother introduced me to someone. He wasn’t someone I normally would go for. I guess I had it in my head that being with him nan would come back and get mad at me. But as time passed, I actually fell in love with him. I thought he was great. He could do no wrong. Boy was I wrong. I guess I should have known the first time he was put in jail to leave, but I stayed. It got bad 1yr after being together. At our engagement party. He got mad about something and destroyed my room by punching holes in the walls while screaming at me. But I still stayed. A few months later I found out he was cheating on me with an ex. I confronted him and he lost it at me. He grabbed me and threw me on my bed and when I went to get up, he slapped me. But I still stayed. Things sort of calmed down for a bit even though he went to jail a few more times during this time. But each time I stayed. He cheated on me again. This time was with an under 18-year-old. This resulted in him being told he wasn’t allowed back in Cooma. But I still stayed. I left my job, left my hometown and went up to him. We spent a week homeless before he was able to return to Cooma. some time went on. There were arguments, there was cheating, there was always taking money from me and if I didn’t say yes, more arguments. He ended up back in jail yet again and I found out I was pregnant. After four years of heavily using pot, this was the day I became clean. Again, I found out he cheated on me thanks to a doctors appt. when I confronted him about this, he turned it on me saying I was the cheater. That the baby wasn’t even his that I was just saying it was his. But I still stayed. When he got out things got good for a bit. But then one day we had an argument, he punched holes again and would threaten “wait till this baby is born”. This phrase was said on several occasions.


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