Christof's Story

INNER-WEST TRANSITIONAL BOARDING HOUSE SUPPORT

My name is Christof. I’m 46 years old and have been in and out of prison for way too long. Can I explain the reasons for me going to prison? Probably not, because I don’t really know the answer myself. I do know however that experiences in my childhood left me not trusting anyone and made my life extremely difficult.

Growing up, my family were involved with a religious cult that was later exposed for indecent sexualised behaviours on children. My mother sent me to live with three male relatives who then also abused me sexually. I began using alcohol and drugs to block out the pain and eventually became addicted to ice.

I was in trouble with the law and became friends in prison with people who had the same types of issues as me. It wasn’t healthy but it was all I knew and they didn’t want to talk about their heartache either, which suited me fine.

I was employed for 12 years as a truck driver and those were good years for me, even though I was still using drugs and alcohol. It kept me out of prison until I lost my licence for driving under the influence and I ended up back inside for two years.

Prison was getting tiring and hard to manage so when I got out I asked for help from the CRC worker on the Boarding House Outreach Service team at Newtown Neighbourhood Centre. They helped me find temporary accommodation with the long-term view to secure a property with Housing NSW. They also assisted me to see a psychologist, something I have never wanted to do. I’m glad they did as it has started my long road of healing and recovery. The days I see the psychologist are hard and I find the week after extremely difficult, but my CRC worker and my community mentors help me through the process.

I have also been assisted with getting long overdue medical attention for my Hepatitis C, teeth from the denture clinic and with moving my Centrelink payments from Newstart to the Disability Support Pension. I was taken to a local church for food parcels and ended up doing volunteer work there, a place I take great pride in. I hated churches for so long but have even started going, after all the negativity I experienced in my childhood. I feel good about myself and what I am doing but at times I still feel it could all come tumbling down. That’s when I contact my support people. I don’t know if my feelings will ever go away but now understand that if I relapse I can pick myself up again. Even though I have people in my life telling me how good I am doing I still don’t see it, but I am not giving up this time.

My relationship with my family is getting better and my brother has even allowed me to spend time with my nieces and nephews, which makes me happy. I want to show them that I can do this and make some changes in my life. I even told my brother about all my abuse and he was stunned.

Prison is a very hard place to be and I was always in survival-mode and seeing and doing things that caused more traumas in my life. Prison hardens your emotions and makes you not trust the system or anyone in it. I don’t want to end up there again and the only way for me to not go back is to address my traumas and drug use, change the people I become friends with and keep myself busy.

I really do believe that without the support from the CRC worker, the church, my community mentor and my family I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I have a long journey to go and will come across many hurdles. The difference today is that I am learning how to jump those hurdles instead of falling into them and have learnt to reach out for help.