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“We had a great relationship. We had good communication. We had a lot of trust. And he was a very hands-on dad. Was a lovely guy. People liked him. He had a great personality.

I had this idea about getting us away from the life that both of our families kind of had lived. And I wanted the kids to grow up with working parents. Not become entrenched in the sort of beneficiary type lifestyle.

When I met him I knew he gambled because he would bet on the horses or he'd play on the pokies. I didn't see it as anything odd or he had a habit or anything like that. On a day-to-day basis things were normal.

But there will be certain things that would happen. He would come home and say you know he might have spent this money. Or he might have spent that money. He came to me one lunchtime.

He told me he had taken all our wages out to go and pay bills. And it had dropped out of his pocket as he was walking down the main street.

It's really hard because when you're in the situation, and you have these thoughts about what might be going on. You don't want to talk to other people about it because, you know, you love that person. And you don't want other people to think, to run them down or you don't want to be out there running them down. You feel ashamed because you're not able to deal with it, you know, yourself.

I found out later on that he'd go out and he would borrow money off other people. My brother, he told me that he would give him money. Because he would come to him and say he needed 20 bucks. Because he'd spent the bread and milk money. So my brother said he'd always give him the money and he wouldn't tell me.

He would beg him not to tell me because he didn't want to upset me and that he would pay him back. And that's what he'd kind of say to you. Lots of people. His mum, and dad, my mum, my sister, friends. That's what a lot of them said.

I kind of had a bit of a breakdown one morning. My brother, he told me to go and see my partner's father. And that's when I went to him and it was sort of the first time I had really talked to anyone else about it. Like outside of the two of us.

And it was through his mum and dad that they put him on to the gambling helpline or something like that. And he got hooked up with a counsellor. So he was having regular visits to the counsellor. I found it later on that he only went to the first one so things didn't change. It just seemed to get worse and worse. His spending habits were having a huge impact on our ability to survive basically.

His gambling would be spending money. So we couldn't pay bills or spending money so that I couldn't pay school fees. Or spending money because the kids couldn't go on the school trip. You know, couldn't buy them clothes. That was what ended the relationship from my perspective.

It's really hard to talk to people and say, “Oh, why did you leave your partner?" "Did he have an affair?" or "Was he, you know, alcoholic or something?" It's like, "Oh, no, he was a gambler." People are like, "It doesn't seem that bad." you know because an alcoholic. You can see when someone's drunk or been drinking. Or with a drug addict, but with a gambling addiction you can't see. There's not those physical signs.

The whole experience still impacts on my life all the time. When you think you've had this wonderful, beautiful relationship for so many years. But actually it's all been a big lie. You know, that's how it feels. He would have truly loved me, and I truly loved him. And we had four beautiful kids. But then there's this whole other thing that was going on in the relationship.

I would advise to go in seek professional help. If it's a young woman in a relationship with her partner and the partner has not open to maybe going along to seek professional help. That she go herself.”

Moana's story

Moana shares her personal journey of living with a gambler.