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Finding freedom from a traumatic life

 Finding freedom from a traumatic life

Finding freedom from a traumatic life

Nicole Collins shares her story of transformation at the inaugural Salvos Sleepout in Brisbane last October.

By Darryl Whitecross

Nicole Collins describes her life now as wonderful. She has a full-time job, her own apartment, regularly volunteers with the Brisbane City Salvos Open House program, and worships at a Salvos missional church.

It is a far different life from what she was experiencing just a few years ago.

For most of her adult life, Nicole has had to deal with addiction, domestic violence, and homelessness, but she says she now finds herself in a “fantastic place” thanks to the help and support of The Salvation Army.

In her first relationship, Nicole says she was subjected to verbal abuse and the impacts of her partner’s addiction to the drug ice. She says she also suffered physical abuse.

Finding safety

Her second relationship was not much different. “Twice in my life, now, I’ve just walked away with a backpack and my makeup – I always took my makeup!” she shares.  

After leaving her first relationship in western Queensland, Nicole caught a bus to Brisbane, where she couch-surfed and lived on the streets before checking in to Moonyah – The Salvation Army Recovery Services Centre.  

“I’ve been there three times, but that place has been an absolute godsend for me,” Nicole explains. “I knew it was my safe place. I knew that if I could get there I could get support and counselling and would be okay.  

“That’s how I became involved with Open House at Brisbane City Salvos. Now I hand out emergency relief cards on a Wednesday morning, help feed the homeless and support those seeking assistance there.” She also attends God’s Sports Arena church where she has found a spiritual home.  

Nicole says she called out to God when she walked away from her second relationship. “I said, ‘Well, God. Here we go. What are we going to do?’ He said: ‘Let’s walk’, so that’s what we did. I didn’t even put on shoes. I walked in a pair of thongs until I totally wore them out.”  

Penniless, couch-surfing, sleeping rough again, vulnerable, and in fear of her life, Nicole felt lost but knew she could rely on the support of Open House and contact counsellors at Moonyah.   

Giving back  

She picked up the phone and called the Salvos. She recognised the voice, help was at hand, and her life began to turn around from that moment.  

“Now I have my own place that I’m very, very protective about,” Nicole says. “I have a full-time job, and I still volunteer for the Salvos because they gave me so much. I just feel so grateful and blessed that I’m in a position where I can give back.  

“I have come through [a lot]. It might sound a bit terrible, but I’m grateful that I did. I came out alive, and now I have women and men who come in [to Open House], and they’re in situations that I was in back then. I’ve just got so much more knowledge for them now, and I can help advise them where to go and who to contact. I find that such a blessing.  

“Please don’t look down on the homeless. They’re broken, [they] don’t choose this life, and there is a reason they’re on the streets – usually trauma or domestic violence. Have empathy for them and help them connect with support services.  

“We need services like the Salvos. Any one of us could be homeless tonight.”

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