A survivor’s story

My Journey
I suffered from Domestic violence for almost 15 years. One day it dawned on me how being in that type
of environment everyday would very possibly be effecting my only child. I cannot remember how I got
the courage, but I found it from somewhere and we left in the middle of the night during ongoing abuse
never to return. Enough was enough.
Since that time I have tried so very hard to rebuild my life through support of counsellors, psychiatrists,
family and friends. I have had many hiccups along my ongoing journey to recovery, constant court
appearances, physical and mental health problems and severe financial stress. My biggest hurdle was
to come with the sudden loss of my only sibling my beautiful sister. This loss I still struggle with every
single day. I had another major breakdown shortly after. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, Bipolar
and Severe depression. The effect of all this has been a total lack of self confidence.

My Orthodontic Experience
My first visit to Integrated Smiles and Dr Kerry Chen was exciting but very emotionally charged as I
explained to Kerry the effects of long term events had had on my self confidence. The very last thing I
wanted to do was to smile. I had nothing to smile about. I had over the years developed a learned
behavoir in which I always covered my mouth, my gaps, my teeth and the fact that I had come
to believe I was not allowed to be happy at all. In my married life I was not allowed to be ‘happy’.
Dr Chen and his staff were incredibly compassionate and understanding and very professional in their
explanation of how Orthodontic treatment could help me.
They were correct. I have regained some independance and confidence during and especially since
my treatment. I still find it hard not to cover my mouth during conversation and laughter, I am sure this
will develop further with time. During the time of my treatment I managed to return to study and
complete my qualification. I believe the treatment and care I was receiving had a massive effect on my
confidence and motivation.

Post Treatment
I have managed to obtain employment on a limited capacity for the first time in 15 years and have
changed careers and now work as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). Although at this stage I can
only manage one or two shifts per fortnight, my confidence and health is building slowly. My relationship
with my child is growing everyday despite being a 100% parent with no involvement from the other
parent.

I will be eternally grateful for this opportunity that the Rebuilding Smiles program has given me. I feel
like I am able to smile and not hide. Thank you so very much.