Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Kirsty's story*

The best way I can describe my life now is bog standard, 9 to 5 normal, and I love it! That might sound strange to a lot of people, but life for me hadn’t been ‘normal’ for a long time.

I first tried heroin when I was just 16, after my nan died. She was lovely, like a second mum to me - I could do no wrong in her eyes! Losing her was...well, I was in a bad place. I was young and vulnerable – the perfect target for a dealer.

The years that followed are a blur; I was so sick I wanted to escape my own body. For a brief time I sold myself because I was so desperate for drugs. It really is all-consuming; it hijacks your body, your dignity, your pride. My family were terrified for me, they were banging on the door of every service in town but for recovery to work it has to come from you.

The worse day of my life was when I was raped. A man took me to a field and strangled me until I passed out. Then he raped me. The only reason the police found out is because they picked me up the next night and I broke down in tears. He got life, thank god. I hope he never gets out. 

To go through everything I’ve been through and have the life I have now is unbelievable. Change Grow Live (CGL) have been amazingly supportive. I did the peer mentor training with them, then worked with them as a volunteer and I guess they must have been impressed because they offered me two jobs with them! I’m now a proud, fully paid up Recovery Champion at the local service.

I took my daughter on holiday to Malta last year. It’s the first holiday I’ve had since I was 7. Just knowing that I worked hard to pay for something for her makes me feel great. I never take the little things for granted, and in a weird way, I feel lucky because ‘the little things’ really are still special for me.

My daughter’s a very happy 8-year old. She loves art and singing – she’s actually singing in the choir for this year’s Christmas play. My partner’s also dead good with her. He’s a good ‘un. What can I say? We’re just a normal, happy family. I have a past but don’t we all? What matters is today and tomorrow. 

*Name changed to protect identity

Have you been affected by any of the issues in Kirsty's story?

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Rape Crisis is a charity supporting women and girls who have been victims of sexual violence

Confide offers a confidential listening space for people who are, or have been in the sex trade

The Survivors Trust supports anyone who has experienced rape or sexual abuse