About This Project


Describe your life today

“I’m a full-time mother. I work four days a week in the beauty therapy industry. I spend the mornings at the gym and the evenings with my family. I have family days on Sundays where I always go out and do something with my two girls.”

“My life feels great; stable, structured, and safe. I always said I just wanted a normal life; a family, a healthy relationship and a healthy life.”

What do you love about your life these days?

“I missed out on being a mother to my eldest daughter, so I love that I was able to take a year off to have with my second daughter.”

“I also really love having my youngest’s father around too. Being in a relationship and having that support feels a lot different to before. I love to watch him with both of my girls.”

Are they any aspects of your life that continue to frustrate you?

“You have to work a lot harder to get anywhere, which is a lot different from the old lifestyle where you could do things and get stuff quickly. However, it feels a lot better to work hard for the things that I have now because you appreciate them more – you’ve earned them!”

How is life today different to life before RAW?

“I didn’t have a safe or stable home. There was a lot of uncertainty about finances. There was either a lot of money around or none at all. There was no routine in my life. I had a really rocky relationship with my eldest girl’s father, and I didn’t have my daughter for two and a half years because of the choices I made.”

How does that compare with your life today?

“Today, my life is stable, and I feel safe. I know who will be coming to my house these days whereas before there were a lot of people keeping in and out that I didn’t know.”

“I had very low self-confidence. I was very unsure of myself and very indecisive. Now I know who I am and whom I want to be. My mind is clearer, and I have a lot more positive support in my life, whereas before I was isolated.”

“I haven’t used since being released and that has a lot of sway on my decisiveness and being able to put a plan in place and execute it.”


Looking back, what things now amaze you about the life that you were living (the things you accepted as normal)?

“My relationship. Thinking that the way he treated me was ok and normal, and that his violence was always my fault and that I deserved that. I thought it was normal to have people coming in and out of the house and for my ex to be out and about all night.”

“Today I think how could I have been so stupid to think all that was ‘normal’ – but I was blinded by love. I was so utterly in love that anything he wanted I allowed it.”

“Today I’m able to talk things through with my partner and if he ever raises his voice (it’s only happened twice) being strong enough to call him on it. I don’t worry if my partner goes out now, I have trust now.”

Reflecting on when you first joined RAW, to where you stand today, what have been some big breakthrough moments/turning points’ in that journey?

“Graduating with my diploma in Beauty Therapy. I’d done courses in the past but never completed anything.”

“Getting my first home. I had to work really hard at getting it. First, it was a little studio, then a one bedroom unit and now I have a two-bedroom townhouse.”

“I think I’ve learned to love myself – mentally, emotionally and physically – and I know that there are things I do need to talk about because I have a dark past. If I communicate my feelings, I won’t go back there. What keeps me out of trouble is being honest about the way I’m feeling. I’ve got supportive people around me that are supportive of me.”

Reflecting on when you first joined RAW, to where you stand today, what did you need to learn/unlearn?

“Things take time, and I can’t have everything at once. I need to be patient. I’m still learning that with my eldest daughter’s situation; I have to have understanding and build trust. It was the same with my housing situation. I wasn’t able to be in my dream home from the outset; I had to work up to that.”

“I also had to unlearn the behavioural and coping mechanisms that I used in past. I wouldn’t talk about anything, just bottle it all up and then explode. I’ve learned to talk about it.”

“ In the past, I would go and use or link up with people who were using. More recently, I’ve been in situations with users trying to entice me back, and I have just had a yuck feeling about being around those people. I’ve had to cut those people out of my life. I don’t feel bad about it; I can’t support someone who’s drowning otherwise, they will take me down too. I just need to push the guilt away and focus on me.”

Why do you think you have been successful in staying away from ‘the dark side’?

“Good people around you is key. Once you get linked up with old friends and past demons, they all drag you backwards real quick. If you are not strong in yourself, you can be easily misled.”

“You need people around that that you trust and who will not judge you if you feel you are slipping.”

“Having goals is also really important to keep you focused and your mind busy.”

What’s the secret to you sustaining a good life (away from the dark side)?

“A great support team plus the work you do on yourself. Becoming strong enough that if someone from your past crosses your path, you are strong enough to say no.”

“Self-reflection and inner strength is a big thing. It’s not easy, and it takes a long time. It’s 2.5 years since I’ve been out. It’s a huge journey and until my daughter is home, it’s not complete. You’ve got to really want the change. You can’t help people that don’t really want it.”


If you had to sum up in a sentence, the role that RAW has played in your journey over the last two and a half years, what would you say?

“They are always there when you need them; their door is always open. Even though I haven’t had a lot to do with them, that didn’t matter; when I popped into Annah’s inbox, she was still there to help me. That support is huge.”

What are the things that RAW has given you/helped you to find or build that you didn't have before (or had lost sight of)?

“RAW helped me build trust. I felt very close to Rebecca, and I was able to talk to her. Annah helped me believe I could do anything and that I wasn’t limited to one single thing. I’ve just recently talked to her about midwifery. That belief in me is huge!”

What things have RAW made possible that you didn’t think would be possible?

“My study was a big thing. Thanks to them I got into the course after it had already started for the year and got a scholarship for it. They are also helping me with getting my daughter a scholarship for her schooling when she comes home.”

If you were asked to communicate five things to women considering the RAW Programme that were key to building a new way of life – what would they be?

“You need to want this for you. Not even your children are a big enough why. You cannot put the pressure on your children for your success in life. What’s going to

happen if you don’t get your children back? Will you fall or can you accept it and know that you can still be great. I used to say ‘Sophia is my why’, but mostly I do it for myself now. Focusing on you makes you a better person, a better mother, a better partner. It’s all about believing in yourself above anything else.”

“You need to be strict and disciplined, and surround yourself with a huge support system.”

“It’s not going to be easy, but you can do it. I’ve done it, and I’m still in contact with women who are doing the same.”

“You need to believe in yourself and have other people in your life who believe in you too.”


Thinking ahead, what are your goals and plans

“I have so many. I want to get married. Get into a bigger home. Work in the beauty industry for two or three years, and then branch out or look into starting my own business or go into midwifery. Might even add another baby to the mix.”

What do you perceive some of your challenges might be?

“As you get more successful in your life, other people will want to try and sabotage you, in order to see you fall.”

“Every day there are issues to overcome, e.g. financial – that can cause concern for someone with a past like me. I’ve figured out what my triggers are and finances are a huge issue for me, so I need to be mindful about that. I don’t want to go back for an easy, quick fix of cash.”

What is the thing that you know for sure about your future?

“That I’m going to be happy. This is what I’ve always wanted – a normal life. It can only go up from here because there’s no way it can ever be worse than my past. At the age of 26, I have my first real job, and I continue to learn new things and evolve as a person. I want to have a great family home, my kids with me and have the good life!”

What is the thing that excites you most?/most looking forward to?

“Having my daughter home.”

Where are the areas that RAW can most add value to in your journey ahead?

“They’re of value at any point in your journey. All you need to do is ask. Having them on your side is amazing. They can open doors that someone with my past can’t get open. They will always be in my corner.”

What did you need to accept or let into your life?

“That what I’ve been through is always going to be there, that I will always have a dark past. That’s been a big pill to swallow. As much as I would like to move on, some people can’t or are taking longer to.”

“Initially, I didn’t want to have to do anything to do with RAW after I left because it was linked to my past. But I’ve let them in, and they have been a big support. RAW helps me to see that my mistakes are not all bad because I can help other people through my journey.”

“I also need to let people in that will help me. I’ve always been a closed book, but I need to be more vulnerable with people. I’ve just recently closed the chapter on my relationship with my first daughter’s father. It was force closed when we went to prison but there have been a lot of unresolved feelings. I recently got engaged, and I wanted to have that closure to move forward, so I reached out and had the conversation I needed to close it.”