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An Army fights with me

An Army fights with me

An Army fights with me

Melissa told an audience at the Red Shield Appeal launch in Brisbane that The Salvation Army “loved her back to life”.

By Melissa Berry

My name is Melissa and I am not my past.

I had a wonderful childhood and was a bubbly, outgoing, friendly child who got good grades in school. Then I began being bullied, developed depression and started to self-harm.

I started high school and made a lot of new friends. The bullying decreased, but the depression continued. In Year 10, I started going to parties, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.

I was soon introduced to marijuana. At 15, I was at a party, drunk and stoned. I was raped. I did not tell my parents or press charges, as I blamed myself.

My depression grew worse, as did self-harming, binge drinking and taking drugs. I used these as coping mechanisms to mask the pain I was feeling. I dropped out of school, and every weekend was filled with parties, alcohol and drugs.

I started my first serious relationship, where I was introduced to drugs like ecstasy and speed. At 18 I fell pregnant and in 2008 my son was born. He was 11 months old when I left his father and became a single mum.

By the age of 23, I was using the drug ice. I ended up in a relationship with a guy and soon we were selling drugs and had the police raiding our home. My son went to live with my parents permanently.

It was then that I started using ice every day to cope with the pain. My partner and I ended up homeless, and he started to become verbally, emotionally, mentally and physically abusive.

I just used more drugs to cope. We were arrested for trafficking drugs. The abuse got worse, my drug habit got worse and we were sent to prison on a parole violation. Within 24 hours of release, I was back using ice and selling drugs.

I ended up in another drug-fuelled, abusive relationship and ended up back in jail. Once released, I started driving while disqualified and got caught. I was arrested again and was going to jail.

This was my rock bottom, and I tried to take my own life while in the watch-house. Thankfully, I was found and taken to hospital. I was granted a place at Moonyah (The Salvation Army’s Recovery Services centre) and arrived there on 5 December 2016, completely broken.

The Salvation Army began to love me back to life. Every Sunday, I attended church at God’s Sports Arena, looking for some hope. It was then that I found a connection with my loving God. Embracing faith filled the void that had ruled my existence.

All that brokenness began to heal, and I began to pray every day. I also started to build a wonderful support network inside The Salvation Army – people who believed in me and supported me.

I started to rebuild relationships with my family and friends. I was a different woman, however, I knew that I would still be going to prison. All I could do was pray. I attended court, charged with drug offences.

My parents and Salvation Army supporters were there with me, with prison the expected outcome. The judge, however, agreed that, with all the hard work I had put into turning my life around and with the support I had from my family and The Salvation Army, I posed no threat to society.

I was sentenced to three years with immediate parole. I had been given a second chance. I graduated from the Moonyah Bridge Program in August 2017.

Many battles have been fought and won, but the war still rages. I no longer do life alone, though, an Army fights with me.

My son now lives with me, he has started a new school and we have begun a new life. He has his mum back. The Salvation Army saved my life. 

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