Aida Finds New Life at McAuleyFor years Aida struggled alone against abuse, financial insecurity and emotional traumas as the marriage and family life she once cherished, began to crumble. They were tough years for Aida, but life began to change once she found McAuley.
Aida came to Australia from Lebanon in 1993 to be married. Initially the marriage was happy but all too soon, it began falling apart. After the birth of her third child, Aida decided not to have any more children because she was ‘too scared’ of her husband; she had no job nor a sense of security. Her name was not on the family home title and her husband was cheating on her.
Leaving was not an easy option for Aida despite her husband’s infidelity, emotional and financial abuse. Her mother-in-law understood what she was going through, knew what her son was like but whenever Aida threatened to leave, she pleaded with her to ‘be patient’.
In 2009 Aida told her husband she wanted a divorce. While they continued to live separated under the same roof, Aida’s life was moving on. She started working in a takeaway shop and had met another man.
“The sad thing was that his family turned my children against me and my relationship with my daughter and two sons became strained,” she says. In 2010 Aida moved out with her son and rented a house.
Her divorce was finalised in 2011. The custody arrangements were such that her children lived with her every second week.
“It was not a happy or successful arrangement,” said Aida.
“The children verbally abused me more and more, copying the behaviour they had witnessed over many years.”
The father took out an intervention order against Aida, claiming she was abusive and not good for the children, which was a false allegation. For a while he had full custody of the three teenage children.
With no children to look after, Aida moved in with her new partner and again found herself in a spinning cycle of control and violence.
By the end of the 2011, Aida escaped the violence. She arrived at McAuley Care and moved into McAuley House in 2011, staying for a year, before she was assisted by McAuley to find a house and live independently.
“It was the turning point for me,” she says. “I was able to find myself again, supported and surrounded by women who had lived similar experiences.”
Thanks to McAuley’s holistic program of providing safe housing, access to training with Anthea Slade from McAuley Works and becoming work ready, Aida worked in a catering business and has also completed a business course.
In 2013 Aida’s relationship with her children took a positive step and they once again came to stay with her permanently and things went back to normal.
Aida is now interested in changing careers from catering to childcare. She is no longer afraid and feels she has regained her confidence and personality – characteristics that were lost after years of abuse. In fact, Aida was a Peer Sister at McAuley House and supported other women on their journey towards independence and empowerment.