Paula’s guardian An­gel

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - STREET WATCH - Greig John­ston

PAULA An­gel is sim­ply grate­ful to be alive and have a roof over her head.

The 48-year-old was a vic­tim of ex­treme do­mes­tic vi­o­lence at the hands of a former part­ner.

“An ex had al­most killed me,” she said.

“I was ba­si­cally put in as a Jane Doe in the trauma ward. When I went into the hos­pi­tal, they said ‘lucky you got here, you were nearly legs up’.”

Af­ter leav­ing the re­la­tion­ship and be­ing granted a vi­o­lence re­strain­ing order, Paula found her­self home­less in 2015.

“I had to re­build my­self be­cause you’re just stripped of ev­ery­thing to the point where I would have been quite happy to hang from the rafters,” she said. “My dog ba­si­cally kept me alive.”

Her dog, a beloved pit bull called Taima the Piglet, was Paula’s com­pan­ion and pro­tec­tor when she was liv­ing rough.

He was re­cently put down af­ter a spi­der bite.

She re­called one of the first nights she spent in her car and the sense of shame that ac­com­pa­nied her.

“I do re­mem­ber go­ing to an oval in Ocean Reef; I parked there,” she said.

“I wanted to leave the win­dows down, be­cause it was hot, but there were mos­qui­toes. I was wor­ried about peo­ple com­ing. I didn’t get a lot of sleep.

“If you were there too of­ten, work­ers would be look­ing.

“You go into the back of your car, or­gan­ise your stuff.

“It was my own self-con­scious­ness. You go and use a pub­lic toi­let and peo­ple would look at you like you were go­ing to shoot up.”

Paula had been home­less for 18 months when the 50 Live 50 Homes pro­gram be­came in­volved.

Teale Prus works for Ruah Com­mu­nity Ser­vices and is the project co-or­di­na­tor of 50 Lives 50 Homes, a col­lab­o­ra­tive ini­tia­tive through the home­less­ness and hous­ing sec­tors in­volv­ing 27 dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tions.

She said Paula was as­sessed to have a high vul­ner­a­bil­ity and that’s when the ma­chine kicked into gear.

“From there, a part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tion picks up sup­port,” Ms Prus said. “All clients have a case worker who takes on their sup­port and looks at what needs they have and what we can ac­cess.”

Through 50 Lives 50 Homes, Paula was even­tu­ally placed in a home of her own long-term, a safe, se­cure house where she can con­tinue to re­build her life.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie

Grate­ful to be alive... Paula An­gel.

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