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This testimony to Tom Ro Haven is from one of many people we help at The Haven with your help!

“First time I went to Tom Ro I felt awkward and petrified, I hadn’t been healthy person for quite some time and had twitches, people stare sometimes or treat me like an invalid… Awkward! I was also convinced that my past would be exposed and that the horses would pick up that I am a danger to them, yet my heart’s longing to connect with these beautiful animals spoke louder and there I was on my way.

I have since learnt the truth about myself, it was never me that was a danger to others, it was actually my abuser, my “father”. He by no means deserves to be called a father, fact is, he is a monster. I feel guilty writing it as if I am betraying my own flesh and blood and I wish the things experienced weren’t real… but they are.

Testimony to Tom Ro HavenI grew up in a household where violence was the norm, I was subject to many beatings, sometimes for the smallest of things. Touching a musical instrument (have a whole assortment now), looking for food in the kitchen, eating too fast, weighing too much. If it wasn’t beatings it would be starvation or getting locked up for days. Then there was dreaded late nights of heavy drinking where he would sexually abuse, didn’t understand it and it left me feeling utterly disgusting.

Half way through primary school he lost his job, and my existence became a living hell and would continue till the age of 25. He started selling me to other men for sex. Dosing me with medication so that I couldn’t fight them. Sometimes I recognised them, fathers of schoolmates. Was told I would be expelled should I say a word. I was also forced to be filmed while all that gross stuff happened, he would play it in the house as if it were nothing. He took control of every aspect of my life. I was weighed every morning, told what to wear, where to go, who to speak to, what to eat, when to eat, it goes on. If I was just a little over the weight he wanted me to weigh… more beatings. Some of those horrible men also got violent, still cant talk about it to this day.

This carried on for years and I slowly watched myself wither away, they were destroying me and I was to. Having learnt terrible coping skills I was a full blown heroin addict from a young age. But through it all there was one part of me that didn’t get hurt, a part of me that used to connect with horses. Horses without a doubt kept me alive through the abuse. And also a local man who taught me everything I know … knew (my memory fooked) this man became like a father and mentor to me. And In high school he gave me a horse, beautiful soul that I could keep by him and visit whenever I wanted to. This horse and I formed an incredible bond. It was raw, honest and loving. If I had any drugs in me, he would bite me or buck me off; always made it clear. Boundaries. Respect. Giving and receiving love. Most of all trust. A safe space. End of high school my mentor moved to another farm and said I was to keep my horse with me. I was over joyed but deeply regret it now.

A year later I couldn’t take the abuse anymore, I wanted out and approached the police. Before I knew it everything was turned against me, psychiatric evaluations, the works. And then one of my worst nightmares, my father screaming in a rage that I had betrayed the family and shooting my beloved horse in front of me. I too died that day and never interacted with horses for another 20 years. 20 years I blamed myself and let my father rule all of me, even after I escaped years later. . The impact of the abuse and neglect I endured is insurmountable. My journey as an adult has been a grueling and lonely path laced with heroin monsters and tik demons

Back to Tom Ro Haven

“When I arrived at Tom Ro I was struck by how similar the space was to my mentor’s place. My curiosity became more than my fear. Don’t remember much more, it’s more what I felt and being greeted by Caesar. Ceasar Testimony to Tom Ro HavenI thought he would see what I was and what happened to another horse, that I connected with and loved, but he just rested his nose on my bad arm or a bit. For first time in days my body could finally warm up and had a few twitch free hours. That day never left me until I finally went back beginning of the year. I received sad news that my mentor had passed away. I was to see him in a weeks time. Between my first experience at Tom Ro and losing a father figure, I swallowed my pride and went back to volunteer at Tom Ro in a twitchy kind of way. I wanted to honour him and what he taught me. I had no idea that this decision would literally save my life On my good days I would help Steph out, we hardly spoke but the space was so safe. there was never judgement, no staring, no “special” treatment or trying to rescue unless I asked for help.

To have the freedom to be a human being and not a human doing, while gentle souls show a steady belief in you is so empowering.

MeridethThen I met Meredith, a gentle wise soul. I think was brushing Bella and she got agro, and I don’t know why but I showed her my stab wound scar and said I also have scars, and she calmed down, then I felt a little head but behind me, Meredith.. insisting I brush her. What followed is so hard to describe. I have called them conversations, or maybe it is the space created by Gill and Steph safe enough for horses and humans to rediscover the things we lost or hid away. Whatever it is I am forever grateful.

While I was taking more risks of showing my gentle side my addiction was getting more out of control. Everything came to a head when after not being believed for many years my father was exposed and the truth came out. How amazing that I stumbled on this place amongst people who knew of that ugly world. The love, care, understanding and support from Gill has inspired me and I hope to be that for someone in need in the future.

As I got more comfortable with Meredith my eyes started opening and seeing the truth. This is what Meredith taught me…The truth being he never broke me, scarred me yes, broke me? Not even close. I am grateful that he gave me life, through my painful experiences I have learnt to savour the good things, appreciate small things that not many people can. My conversations with Meredith showed me that I am resilient, I am tough as nails, talented, intelligent, and more than capable to have survived. Also that there is nothing wrong with having a soft heart. She reminds me every time I see her that I am enough.

On a day that I had planned to end my life I met with the gentle soul, Meredith who carries incredible strength, and I remembered my calling. That day I chose life, I chose love to be my rebellion, to come out the shadows and stand up and know that I deserve recovery just like anyone else. This shame I have carried was never mine to carry it was his all along. The following day I went into treatment. Recovery has been bloody hard and brought to my knees a few times, the difference though is I know in my heart now, I am allowed healing. Gill, Steph, Meredith, Caesar and the herd I will be forever grateful much love.

In March 2018 at the end of one of my rehab stints a psychologist by the name of Joanne said that I would always be too much for people, that i could never sustain any relationships or friendships.

For quite some time I believed her and shyed a way from people. I felt there was no hope for me, after all she studied this, she is qualified . I saw myself as broken beyond repair. I also lived it to a degree and then came Meredith and the gang. Unassuming, accepting, respectful and loving. Sometimes it’s not about qualifications, diagnosis and prognosis. The simple act of being kind and loving can bring hope to the hopeless. I certainly was hopeless but through working my recovery and being open to the love from Meredith, Gill, everyone there my life (although not easy) has certainly become worth living. September 2020, I know without a doubt that love quietly wins each day. There is always hope, even for the forgotten ones.”

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