When Victoria left her abusive marriage, she lost all support from her devoutly religious family who believe that divorce is wrong. She was left alone with three kids, no job and no one to turn to.

“Sometimes, if there is only a little food I will give it to the kids,” she says. “I won’t eat. I will give it all to them.

“I’ve been without food for sometimes two or three days. I can drink water, I don’t mind. I’ll do anything for my kids. I’ve only got them, and they’ve only got me. It is a bit hard, but you know, sometimes we have to sacrifice for our kids.”

From sacrificing to supported

Victoria came into contact with The Salvation Army just before Christmas a few years ago. She had received help from other organisations, but says the Salvos were different.

“They made me feel like I belonged,” she says. “They accept you the way you are; they don’t judge you. They show you the love that you need.”

Victoria says the Salvos are always there when she needs a hand up.

“When you need a hug they’re always there for you,” she says. “And I really need that. Because I don’t have anyone to share anything with, to share my life with. I’ve got family but they’re not there for me. I have no one.”

At Christmas, Victoria was invited by the Salvos to visit a Christmas Cheer shop where she could pick new presents to give to her children without paying.

“To have the presents for the kids it makes me happy and the kids so happy,” she says. “It makes me feel like my kids aren’t missing out on anything. It’s really special.”

After Christmas, Victoria kept returning to her local Salvos. She loves the fact that nobody judges her and she feels like she has a family again.

“I’m struggling because […] the electricity bills are expensive and the kids’ needs – their needs are very expensive,” she says. “They [The Salvation Army] help me out with mostly food and with my bills.”

Victoria wants to work, but the cost of putting her children in before and after school care would be too prohibitive. She survives on the single parent payment which mostly goes towards rent and bills with little left over for life’s other expenses.

“The rent, because I’m living in a private rental and I have to pay the gas, electricity and water and I have to mow the lawn and everything and buy the kids uniforms and their needs are so expensive,” she says.

“Even buying things in the cheap shop it’s still, for me, it’s a stretch. I always pay my bills and I always pay my rent on time. I do buy food but sometimes we will run out of food because my boys – they eat a lot! They will eat and after half an hour they come back and say they’re hungry again! It’s really hard.”

An endless supply of hope

Victoria was recently blessed by the family of one of her son’s school mates who offered to give her a car.

She was blown away by their generosity and says having a vehicle will make life so much easier, not having to transport all of her groceries home on public transport or in a taxi.

But Victoria didn’t have her driver licence. When she told her new-found “family” at the Salvos, they referred her to The Salvation Army’s Drive for Life program, where she is able to have driving lessons for free.

“Even my driving lessons they are helping out with that as well,” says Victoria. “I had no one to teach me so it’s been so helpful. I feel so blessed! If it wasn’t for The Salvation Army I would be struggling, maybe me and my kids would be starving to death.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/

Should you need urgent support, phone Lifeline on 131114, go to lifeline.org.au or text 0477131114 (5.30-9.30pm AEST)