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Stories of hope

Do you believe in miracles? Jasmine’s journey from drug addiction to hope in Christ 

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Rosie* freezes as she hears my parents’ drunken footsteps on the path. I can see the panic in our babysitter’s eyes. Silently, she wraps her arms around me and my little brother – she’s holding us so tightly like she will never let go. I feel safe in her arms, but I know any second that feeling will vanish. 

The front door slams shut as my mum and dad move into the house. Just the sight of them stumbling around scares me. Rosie stands up and shields my brother and me as my parents start to bicker. Terrified, I hug my brother close to me and we try to make ourselves as small as possible, hiding behind Rosie’s slight frame. It won’t be long now until my dad starts beating up my mum. 

Evenings like this were common in my childhood. Our babysitter, Rosie, would regularly act as a boundary, trying to shield me and my brother from witnessing our father’s violence.

I was 6 when my mother passed away. We’re still not sure what it was that killed her – the drugs, the abuse, or some kind of disease? Either way, it wasn’t a natural death. From that time on, I became like a mother to my 4-year-old brother, and my dad directed his anger and aggression our way. I would try to protect my little brother, but there’s only so much a 6-year-old can do to stop a fully grown man. 

Most afternoons after school were spent at the local pub. Kids had to leave by 10pm, so Dad would hide us under the table to sleep, hoping no one would realise we were there. There was no one in my family I could turn to for help or protection. With mum gone, I was at the mercy of not just my dad but also of my cousin and uncle, both of whom abused me. 

I hated my life. I felt so alone, so confused. I often wished my dad had died, not my mum. 

It will come as no surprise that by the time I was 13, I was smoking weed, drinking, and even selling cigarettes to my schoolmates. 

When I was 14, my dad moved four hours away with my brother but let me stay. I had nowhere to sleep and nowhere to live, but for a moment, it felt like freedom! I wasn’t under my dad’s roof anymore, but I was couch-surfing and only intermittently attending school. I fell pregnant at 16, and after my daughter was born, I was drinking and smoking weed every day. By the time I was 19, I was out clubbing every night and became addicted to ecstasy, speed, and cocaine, and I began selling drugs to fund my addiction.

A few years later, I was using and selling methamphetamine, and at 27 years old, I was charged with $500,000 worth of drug trafficking, possession of illegal arms, and car theft. They said if I plead guilty, the charge would be reduced to trafficking $50,000. But the judge refused the deal of a suspended sentence and put me on board-ordered parole, where I had to serve extra time while I applied for parole. I was on remand for 18 months.

Walking into prison didn’t feel real. I was brought in very late at night, and they didn’t have a cell for me. I was given a cold meal and placed in the Detention Unit. It was cold and lonely, and it felt surreal. 

I felt a lot of guilt and shame at that time, but I also felt alive and free! I knew I would spend my time on the inside wisely, but I never thought it would be a Godly experience. I spent some time in the ‘care bears’ unit, where I was under observation for self-harming. While I was there, I had visits from a few different chaplains. Talking with Debbie was the first time in my life that anyone had really listened to my story; it was the first time anyone had even cared enough to ask me those questions. I could see that she was genuinely interested, and I began to trust her. 

When I met Wendy and Audrey, my initial reaction to them was, like a lot of the girls, ‘How can I manipulate these ladies to get what I want?’ Wendy was never fooled! Neither was Audrey, but she would always bring me books. Audrey is one of the most gentle souls you could ever meet. She really loves Jesus! At the time, I didn’t understand, and I just saw her as a loving grandmother figure. Towards the end of my time in prison, we discussed everything from my life goals to marriage and the scriptures. I always looked forward to Tuesdays when Audrey and Wendy would come in! Audrey really listened and empathised with me, and I knew with all my heart that she loved me. 

Each chaplain I encountered shared their faith so genuinely, in their own unique ways. I don’t recall Audrey carrying a Bible or telling us to study scriptures. It was more about the way she loved us. God’s love poured out of her so generously that it was hard not to be impacted. 

I gave my life to Christ in 2020. His love genuinely changed my life. I have been clean from all drugs since 2016. I now own my own cleaning business and have a ministry with my family where we help others to get back on track. My daughter turns 18 this year, and I’m in the process of adopting a baby. I’m part of a wonderful church family. My life is completely new – it’s a miracle! 

My brother has a similar story to me, struggling with a drug addiction. He’s 33 this year, and I can see that he is starting to get on track. 

Things are not always easy, and I’m not perfect. But God is, and He is the reason I’m here today. 

Jasmine, ex-prisoner

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