For young people in care the trauma that they have endured as a child, leaves emotional and behavioural scars that last well beyond the actual abuse despite endless attempts by well meaning adults and professionals to help.
Angela’s father is aboriginal and her mother is white. Her parents separated not long after she was born and her mother moved to a rural area and met another man who was was not aboriginal. Angela was now the outcast in the family. She was made to sleep outside with the animals on the dirt, she was belted with a cattle prod that left lifelong physical scars and referred to as “that little black b^*tch” amongst other horrendous names. Her mother moved away from this man only to meet another abusive, drug addicted partner. Angela watched as her mother was beaten and she hid when she could. Then he started treating her differently, like she was somehow special to him, despite his violent nature. This was a welcome relief until he started coming into her room when her mother was asleep or out of the house and touching her.
Angela is now 16, she is in care and lives in a residential placement or “resi” with youth workers who support her around the clock. Her ability to accept warmth and nurturing, to manage her hyper vigilant responses to simple events, to sleep without night terrors, to go more than a few days without self harming or to see a future for herself is limited. Some days this looks like attention seeking, completely trashing her room, screaming and swearing at those caring for her, feigning illness and calling 000 relentlessly despite there being no emergency. She does this because as a child when police or ambulance officers came to her home she would be comforted and reassured by them. On other days she wants someone to sit with her while she talks about the horror of her childhood, someone to stay with her and stroke her hair while she tries to sleep, someone to pick her up from the train station after staying out all night so that she doesn’t have to sleep.
This Christmas Day Angela is hoping to have lunch with her Aunt and her family, who love her dearly but are unable keep her safe from herself. Sadly she will still wake up and go to sleep at the residential, where she is very much loved but it isn’t and never will be a family home.
By donating a teenage bag with a yellow ribbon during this year’s “Its in the Bag” campaign Angela will know that there are people in this world who can offer kindness and warmth without needing anything in return.
Your kindness has such a profound effect on girls and women in need.
Drop off to any Bunnings Warehouse store in Australia.
Have you done a teen bag with a yellow ribbon?