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Real-life stories: Perpetrating violence or crime

Abused As A Youngster Heroin Addict Becomes Habitual Jailbird

My name is Mandy. My mum was a child prostitute and drug addict / alcoholic. My dad was a punter. When I was very young I was abused at my mum’s house in Yorkshire.

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Many secrets were kept in that dark house. I’d see other kids getting picked up from school by her parents, and hate them: it was something I didn’t have and so wanted deep down – love. My teacher would say something to me, and I’d do exactly the opposite. I hated everything in front of me.

My siblings and I had to help mum with her razor blades. You couldn’t see her arms for scars. Then she started on her face and neck. She married a guy who used to beat her up; he was in the National Front and would catapult ball bearings at us in the garden. When I was about eleven I burnt his car.

Mum was drunk one day and told me my dad wasn’t dead. So I moved to London to live with him. He had a gambling house in Soho and used to give me money, gold and fur coats. It was pretty crazy.

I thought having kids and being a mother would fix the emptiness. It was the most devastating thing I ever did. I started using heroin to cope. For the next 20 years I was in and out of Holloway. It was a laugh at first (I had respect cos of my family), but not when officers call you by name, ‘Back again, Mandy?’

Every time I’d plan to get my kids on release, but end up down King’s Cross to pick up the smack and the crack. For 11 years I didn’t see my two kids. I tried replacing them with another two. But that didn’t get me out of the cycle.

Then I met a guy I knew to be a thief and an addict and he said Jesus had set him free. I though he must be robbing the church, so I went to see if there was money in it. A lady asked me, ‘Did I want to ask Jesus into my life?’ deep down I really wanted change, so I said, ‘Yes.’

I left church still smoking smack, crack, and thieving; but I didn’t leave on my own. Jesus was at work on the inside. I began really chase after Jesus. I just thank God that He completely turned my life around.

He restored my children to me. I now work in a London prison with girls I served time and used drugs with years ago. I can walk in that prison and I don’t have to say anything. Girls come up to me and say, ‘Mandy, every time I see you I see hope, you’re an encouragement.’

All I know is, when you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, there’s a door that’s open. When Jesus died on the cross he died with his arms open. There is a door open, and that same door that’s open for me is open for you. He’s drawing you all the time. And I just pray that you will reach your rock bottom, so that he can lift you up, as he’s lifted me up.

Mandy, 2009

Story and photograph by courtesy of Challenge Newsline


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