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My Voice Does MatterAshley's Story

“My name is Ashley, and because of the Dream Centre, I get to be a mom again.”

When Ashley was growing up, her home was filled with conflict and drug abuse. She was taught not to talk about her problems. So from a very young age, Ashley learned that she didn’t have any support.

Despite being taught not to share her problems, when Ashley faced the trauma of being sexually abused by a family member at seven years old, she still told people she trusted. Tragically, no one believed her. The abuse continued. Ashley became jaded, and at twelve years old started drinking to cope.

Her addiction slowly got worse, and drinking turned into drugs. When Ashley was 16, she was sexually abused by another person, and again, no one believed her. This was devastating.  Ashley says she eventually fell into the sex trade because she felt like men were using her for her body anyways.

By 19, Ashley knew she needed to change her life. She went to treatment, and there met the person who would become her children’s father. They broke up before their second child was born, but Ashley was still determined to turn her life around. She went to college and graduated with honours, even while taking care of her son and her two younger siblings.

However, with her second baby, Ashley fell into postpartum depression which soon derailed many of her plans. She started partying on weekends and got back into drugs. In quick succession, she lost her job, her kids, and her home.

“I felt worthless. I felt like a failure—like I failed my kids. I honestly thought that the addiction was going to take me out. I didn’t see any hope,” says Ashley.

Ashley’s turning point came when she found herself at her lowest: left in a ravine and abused. At that moment, she knew that if she wanted to be the kind of mom her kids deserved, she needed help.

So Ashley reached out and checked into a treatment program. After graduating, she felt like she needed additional supports to get back on her feet. She was connected to the Calgary Dream Centre’s post-treatment recovery program for women, and in June 2017 she moved into a home with seven other women.

“The staff were loving me right away and I felt at home. I hadn’t felt safe and secure in a home in a long time.”

In our post-recovery treatment homes, the focus is on building community and equipping women to transition into society. Here, the women live together in a safe, supportive community house. Counselling and other services provide them with a solid base that they can build on as they become more self-sufficient.

Experiencing this community of other women has dramatically changed Ashley’s life. Since entering the program, things have fallen into place for Ashley. Not only has she been working through many of the underlying issues that led to her addiction, but she has also started pursuing a career. She began school in March and will soon be working in palliative care as a Health Care Aide. Even better, Ashley has been able to become the mom she wanted to be to her kids. She rekindled their relationship, and in February moved back in with them!

Ashley credits the Dream Centre with giving her the support to make many of the positive changes in her life.

“I’ve started to learn that I am worthy and I am valuable as a person and my voice does matter,” she says. “I get to be a mom again. I get to try again.”

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