Believe in me video transcript

Elissia: I was taken into care when I was 12 years old. My dad was really abusive towards us and my mom. Me and my four sisters went to our grandparents for a while and after that I've been in probably 10 homes. It's definitely a relief to be taken into care, even though, when I was in that situation it didn't feel so great at the time. I was a really angry kid. I would lash out a lot at the other kids that were in the home with me and that's probably why I moved so much. It's just really scary coming into care and you just feel like you need to put that anger or fear onto someone else. In the end, it was just easier going to my boyfriend's and his family. When it was good, it was really great but when it was bad, it was pretty terrible. I knew it wasn't right, but it just felt normal to me.

Terri: I first met Elissia over FaceTime. We were in lockdown, so I wasn't able to see her in person. Not long after I met Elissia, I found out she was pregnant, and I wondered how I was going to support her. She was a 15-year-old teenager with lots of trauma. She was living with someone who was hurting her. We were in the middle of a pandemic and now she was going to be a mum.

Elissia: I gave my caseworker Terri a very hard time. I just thought that it was another grown-up telling me what to do. I had a fair few case workers before, so it wasn't really any different at the time, so I didn't want to tell her anything that was going on. She would answer my phone calls. She would come and see me non-stop. She would ask how I was doing? She'd always ask if I needed anything and then I realized Terri was pretty different.

Terri: I was worried about Elissia staying with her boyfriend. Elissia hadn't told me, that he was violent towards her however I'd received some information, that I was really concerned about. I started talking about healthy relationships because I realized she might not have seen one and she kept telling me everything was fine. I soon realized that Elissia's boyfriend was listening into our phone calls. He was telling Elissia, what to say and sometimes he would answer for her. That was a bit of a red flag for me. It showed me, how controlling the relationship might be. I knew that I would have to work quite quickly to establish some trust with Elissia so that she could tell me what was going on for her and I could help her find safety.

Elissia: The night before I left, my ex, he ended up pushing me to the ground. I just instantly thought, why should I let my daughter go through the same things that I went through. I just thought it's just time to change. The next day, I packed my cat, my suitcase and I ended up walking out. It was pretty scary, but I called Terri.

Terri: She said, Terri I'm at the shops with my suitcase and my cat. He's hurting me and I need your help. I worked really quickly to find Elissia somewhere safe to stay, first in emergency accommodation in a motel and then her own home through the Rent Choice Youth program.

Elissia: It was great to have a place on my own. I felt safe and protected. I was really happy to decorate Ava's room, getting everything that she needed. Just really making it feel, like it was my own home.

Terri: I put in lots of wraparound supports which helped Elissia to get to her appointments at the hospital, enrol in a school for young parents and domestic violence counselling. I remember Elissia asked me, why I was doing all of these things for her. She felt that if she didn't do as I asked, that I'd take these things away. It made me really sad to think, that she wasn't used to having her needs met without strings attached. Elissia's ex kept trying to get back into a relationship with her. I used the domestic violence wheel to talk to her about the cycle of violence and how this was playing out in her relationship. Eventually we got to a stage, where I was able to take her to the police, so that she could apply for an AVO to protect herself and Ava.

Elissia: I was only in labour for four hours. Above all, it was really great, and Terri came and saw me. I was really excited to show her Ava and be like, look what I made! About a week later I went to YPP which is a young parents program. I lived there for about eight months. It was pretty scary because they had their own ideas about parenting. By the end of the day, I always called Terri. I was venting. I was just like nope, nope, I can't do this, but she would always reassure me that she was trying to make everything better, that I would be out soon and I would end up learning so much from it which I did.

Terri: I was so proud of Elissia and the way she cared for Ava. It was beautiful to see. After Elissia finished the young parents program, she decided that she was going to live in Sydney on her own. Elissia is a strong young woman. I knew that telling her to do something wouldn't work, instead I listened to what she wanted but I also was able to talk to her about my worries with the choices she was making. I'll never forget the day Elissia told me that no one had ever told her they were worried about her, before. It almost broke my heart. It made me realize the power of my words.

Elissia: I never really thought that anyone really cared about me, until Terri came into the picture. I have never had someone that would stick by my side or advocate for me. No one that would say, hey she deserves this, she needs this.

Terri: I loved seeing Elissia grow in her confidence. She'd say things to me, like I'm gonna break this cycle, Terri. It was great to see that she wouldn't accept people in her life that would hurt her and that she started to believe that she deserved so much more.

Elissia: I love being a mum. It is probably the best thing that I could have ever done. I am now starting my certificate three in youth work to help other young kids. I just want to make a difference like Terri did. I want people to know that I'm here for them and I understand what they're going through.

Terri: When I think about what I've learned from working with Elissia, it would be that I don't have to have all the answers. I just need to listen sometimes. Just being in the moment with someone can help them to feel less alone. I'm going to miss working with Elissia every day, but I know that the future holds great things for her and Ava.

I used drugs intravenously; every type I could get my hands on. Ice had the worst impact. One time I got sepsis and nearly died, ending up in ICU. I would go to rehab and get clean for a while and then the next day I would use again. It was complicated as I was also living with anxiety and depression and spent time in a psychiatric hospital. I really wanted to stop, but I couldn’t get away from the physical and emotional cravings.

Last updated:

14 Dec 2022

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