Case Study – Melanie

“I feel that without services like the Women’s Centre, my recovery wouldn’t of been possible as I had no other safe place to turn to. Now it’s only fair that I give back to other women and hold my hand out and say ‘I know the way out’.”

I suffered with addiction for over 20 years

I picked up my first drug at 13 and by 16 I was taking heroin. My mother suffered from manic depression and her behaviour and moods could be very erratic and volatile. After my dad left when I was 10, I was full of feelings of loss and unworthiness. I felt unwanted, unloved and I went on to seek anything and everything that could take me out of myself.

I went through the care system after leaving home at 11 and ended up in a relationship with a using addict at 15. By 18 I was a very chaotic addict, full of anger, lies, deceit, sadness, sorrow, unmanageability, guilt, shame, fear and in a place of not stop.

I was forced into sex work at the age of 17 and it then became a choice I made with an addict’s insane mind that I could fund my habit selling my body.

What I didn’t realise, was that I was not just selling my body, but I was selling a part of my soul each time. I was chipping away at my self-worth, my self-esteem and slowly but surely losing any empowerment as a woman I had or could have. It was lonely, sad, and full of despair and pain. I made many attempts to get clean but I never managed to sustain it.

Finally, about three years ago, I was referred onto the SWOP team by my local domestic abuse services. I was in a very volatile and toxic relationship and had tried to take my own life but no matter where I turned, I was unable to get help.

I was very resistant to help to begin with but I had no one to turn to except my SWOP worker, and it’s because she didn’t give up on me and did everything she could to empower me that I’m where I am today.

After two years of perseverance from her and the SWOP team I finally entered The Nelson Trust rehab. My SWOP worker specifically requested The Nelson Trust so I could go and do a group which no other treatment centre has called Griffin. It was a group for women who had sex worked. It delved into the core of myself and helped me to rebuild myself.

I didn’t realise I needed to look at the sex working in order to stay clean. The importance of the Women’s Service and specifically the SWOP team was paramount in my life as I am now one year into recovery from all mood altering substances. The Nelson Trust has continued to support me and now I facilitate a women’s recovery group and a leavers group.

My life today is full of gratitude and I am now able to see the beauty in life, which I wasn’t able to see before. I now appreciate life’s hurdles and do not treat them as an obstacle but as an opportunity for growth. I am able to stand in my own truth, and feel empowered as I’m doing this.

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