“When Jessica got the first new pair of shoes in her life, she hid them under her pillow because she was afraid to wear them."
Seven year old Jessica’s mother abandoned her very early in her life. As if that wasn’t traumatic enough, Jessica was sent to live with a relative where instead of finding a safe home full of love, she continued to be neglected.
While other children in her new home were treated badly, Jessica bore the brunt of the abuse. She was made to do all the household chores, and took care of the younger children while just a small child herself. Jessica was fed poorly and went to school with no lunch. She received no affection and had absolutely no toys or belongings of her own. All of her clothes were dirty and falling apart.
Due to the extreme neglect, Jessica was placed with Isabelle, a Barnardos foster carer, who could give her the nurturing she needed to heal. It was the first time in her life she knew what it felt like to be safe, eat regular meals, sleep in a clean warm bed, and feel gentleness and affection from an adult.
When her carer Isabelle first met her, she noticed that Jessica had tried to repair a shoe with the sole coming off by wrapping an elastic band around it. Isabelle bought Jessica a new pair of shoes with no holes in them. She was heartbroken to find that Jessica didn’t wear them to school the next day, and instead hid them under her pillow where they would stay safe and new forever. Jessica had been conditioned to believe she didn’t deserve anything new, pretty or nice.
With lots of love and care to help undo the years of damage she had endured, Jessica slowly began to believe she was worth a childhood away from abuse.
However, this story could have had a very different ending. With your generosity, we can reach more Australian children like Jessica and help them get the care and support they need for the best chance of a better future.
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* Please note: Names changed and models used to protect privacy.