When Chloe* moved to Australia she never expected to end up fearing for her life, depressed and homeless.
Even less expected was the fact her saviour would be a little coffee cart in Perth’s CBD, giving people who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless employment and a sense of purpose and belonging. After being subjected to years of mental, emotional and physical abuse from her former partner who she moved to Perth for, Chloe was given a lifeline through The Underground Collaborative’s Ground+Co Cafe.
“My first two years here, he didn’t abuse me,” she said. “He later became very abusive, was drinking two litres of port each night, and would yell and scream at me. I feared what he would do but I had nowhere to go.
I had no friends and no money because he wouldn’t allow me to work or leave the house. He was controlling, oppressive and I became more of a servant to him. I faced a lot of mental, psychological and physical abuse, and felt I couldn’t leave.”
In the middle of the night, with just $30 to her name, Chloe found safety for a couple of nights with the only friend she had before seeking assistance through Uniting Care and Zonta House Refuge.
“Two nights before I got to the refuge, I was trembling, had panic attacks and I couldn’t sleep or eat,” she said. “I had no hope and it took a lot of psychological treatment to get to the point where I felt I had hope for my future.” After three months living at Zonta House, Chloe got a place of her own and gained employment at Ground+Co where she found purpose and further support.
“I now have a life to move forward with, I have some money to pamper myself with food and clothing and somewhere to live,” she said. “I’m much happier now and realise how strong I actually am and have hope of becoming an Australian citizen.”
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