Karen’s mum was a 16 year old girl, forced into a loveless marriage to the president of a bikie gang because she was pregnant with Karen. Not only did her mother refuse to abort Karen but she married Karen’s father just so the government wouldn’t take her away and give her up for adoption.

Karen grew up in a home of severe domestic violence which culminated in her mother having to literally run for her life from a violent man who was going to kill her. By the age of 6, Karen had spent many nights and months living with her Nana where she was allowed to play on the grounds of the two neighbouring churches. Karen attended Sunday school from the age of 6 and didn’t stop attending church until she was 16. It was then that she met her first husband whom she felt compelled to marry 3 days after her 19th birthday in a local Catholic church, 16 weeks pregnant with her first son, believing that was what God expected her to do. The already abusive relationship lasted through the birth of her daughter at 21 and at the age of 23 Karen walked out of the marriage realizing she could raise the children on her own instead of staying in a loveless and abusive marriage.

12 months later, pregnant again to a man who wanted Karen to abort her baby, horrified and confused, Karen denounced her faith and belief to a cruel God and became an Atheist. Karen, kept her baby boy, only to fall pregnant again 8 months later to a different man all by the age of 26. After her last son was born, Karen disgusted with her situation, returned to high school and continued on to university to become a teacher, determined that an education was what was missing. In her second year of university she engaged in a 4 year relationship with a drug addict where she spiralled into a life of drugs, dealing and severe domestic violence that didn’t end until she completed her degree at the end of 1998. In the final few months of her degree, Karen began to withdraw from drugs which triggered withdrawal symptoms, in her case psychosis, a form of schizophrenia which included drug induced seizures. Panicking Karen cried out to the only one she knew who could help her recover from her past and 5 months and 5 days later she gave her life to Christ and has never looked back. Her ex-partner or perpetrator saw such a dramatic difference in her that the following Sunday he followed her to church with all 4 children where he too gave his life to Christ. They were married 2 years later and today are the directors of a national outreach ministry called DARE Formal Wear ltd (aka DARE). DARE stands for Domestic Abuse Recovery and Education and is a Christian response to domestic violence. At its core DARE is a non denominational Not for profit Charity that provides pastoral care to victims and survivors of domestic violence and connects them in with churches in their local area who provide ongoing support, where they find hope of a better future, Love of a gracious and generous God on which their faith is built.

Karen is the managing director and taking DARE to churches across Australia and New Zealand to give women and children the hope of a better life. In 2018 Karen was awarded Moreton Bay Region’s Citizen of the Year and continues to look for community and churches support to fulfil God’s purpose for this nation. You can find out more about her work at www.dareformalwear.com.au or contact her directly via any of her social media platforms.

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