Hope for to­mor­row

LESS than a year ago, she was stuck in a mis­er­able world of vi­o­lent re­la­tion­ships and heavy drug use. A for­mer meth ad­dict shares how the sim­ple prom­ise of hope helped turn her life around.

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Kaylee Martin

A METH ad­dic­tion is not a life sen­tence and Anita Maxwell is the liv­ing proof.

Af­ter los­ing her­self to the drug scene, and fall­ing in and out of abu­sive re­la­tion­ships, Ms Maxwell said she was trapped and hope­less.

But run-ins with the po­lice and hav­ing her chil­dren taken out of her cus­tody were the rude shocks she needed to lead her to the Esther Foun­da­tion’s safe house.

“I came from a past of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and drug abuse; I was a very heavy meth user,” Ms Maxwell told the South­ern Gazette.

“I was in and out of vi­o­lent re­la­tion­ships, and just so en­trenched in that world.

“It’s a pretty fast-paced scene with drugs, and I was quite mis­er­able be­fore I came here; I’d just had my chil­dren re­moved from my care.”

Her fam­ily stepped in and sug­gested she get help, and Ms Maxwell said en­ter­ing the house had been a re­lief from her suf­fo­cat­ing world.

“I felt quite re­lieved to be some­where safe; I think I just felt a real peace be­ing out of that crazy scene,” she said.

“It was hard but I was happy to be get­ting my life back on track.”

The Esther Foun­da­tion houses about 45 women through­out the City of South Perth.

Ms Maxwell has been a res­i­dent with the Esther Foun­da­tion for nearly a year, liv­ing among other women in sit­u­a­tions that in­volve abuse, do­mes­tic vio- lence, teen preg­nancy, de­pres­sion and more.

The re­cov­er­ing ad­dict said this new chap­ter of her life had given her the con­fi­dence to be a func­tion­ing mem­ber of so­ci­ety again.

“I was in such a hope­less place be­fore com­ing here,” she said. “I just thought meth was a life sen­tence and I didn’t think I could ever get clean.

“I ac­tu­ally tried to find a photo of me or a mug shot from when I came into the house. I look com­pletely dif­fer­ent and you wouldn’t even recog­nise me now.”

The pro­grams in place at the foun­da­tion are fo­cused on re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing the women, as well as en­cour­ag­ing them to be­come func­tion­ing mem­bers of so­ci­ety.

Since her ar­rival, Ms Maxwell’s quick mind and busi­ness savvy landed her a piv­otal role in the Esther Foun­da­tion’s Re­cy­cled Cloth­ing Shoppe, a re­tail store on Mends Street that sells pre-loved de­signer goods at a com­pet­i­tive price.

“All the lead­ers here saw some­thing in me that I’ve never seen be­fore,” Ms Maxwell said.

“There’s a huge place in my heart to help women get out of the scene, es­pe­cially those who are re­ally stuck in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.” The Esther Foun­da­tion is a not-for­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion based in the City of South Perth.

To raise money and in­crease fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices to the girls in need, the foun­da­tion is host­ing the New Life Ball next month.

Ev­ery­one is in­vited to the char­ity cock­tail event on May 21.

Esther Foun­da­tion spokes­woman An­nette Rus­sell said all of the Esther res­i­dents would be in­volved in pro­duc­ing the ball as part of the pro­gram.

“There's no quick fix here at Esther; it's very deep work get­ting to the core of the women's is­sues and bro­ken­ness,” Ms Rus­sell said.

“The girls are usu­ally here for a min­i­mum of 18 months; we're not in­ter­ested in a su­per­fi­cial fix but one that is life-chang­ing and long­stand­ing.

“And be­cause of that heal­ing, the women nat­u­rally get a heart for help­ing oth­ers be­cause the trans­for­ma­tion is so real to them that they want to share it.”

Through the foun­da­tion, the res­i­dents run the ca­ter­ing busi­ness Cater­girls, the Re­cy­cled Cloth­ing Shoppe and the Esther Cafe in South Perth.

Stock im­age

Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d452893

Anita Maxwell and Esther Foun­da­tion di­rec­tor Pa­tri­cia La­vater.

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