Nikki’s grandfather was supposed to protect her from harm. Instead, he drugged and sexually assaulted her. At age 24 this was a trauma hard to overcome and lingering consequences left Nikki broken and almost beyond repair.
“Facing the reality that my grandfather did this to me was devastating,” says 31-year-old Nikki. “In the heat of my pain and distress I turned to OxyContin, a dangerous and highly addictive drug.”
Tormented by shock, rage and disbelief, Nikki’s emotional suffering drove her to a full-blown addiction to OxyContin and then heroin.
“I had a $300 a day heroin habit,” says Nikki. “For six years I supported my dependency by working as a prostitute. I can’t count the number of times I was raped or beaten and worked the streets the next day. That’s what I thought I was worth.”
Nikki supported her addiction by all means possible. She pawned family jewellery and stole and sold other peoples’ belongings.
“It’s the harsh truth of what addiction can do,” says Nikki.
Addiction’s Final Chapter
In 2012, Nikki’s 32-year-old boyfriend passed away due to the strain of drugs on his heart. Nikki was desperate to find a way out of her destructive lifestyle and entered a drug treatment and detoxification centre in Simcoe, Ont. This was a time of intense work and profound learning.
When Nikki’s emotional days in rehab came to an end she couldn’t move back to her old neighbourhood. It was unsafe and too hard to live under the burdens of memories there. She had no place to call home and was referred to The Salvation Army.
“I was 116 pounds when I came to The Salvation Army,” says Nikki. “I had no morals, no self-respect and no self-worth.”
The Salvation Army’s emergency housing program in Dunnville, Ont., provides housing support for homeless or at-risk individuals and families. Nikki was housed temporarily in a hotel until other supports were in place.
“Not once did The Salvation Army make me feel like an addict,” says Nikki. “When I first met Rob, my caseworker, he shook my hand and looked me in the eye. He didn’t judge me. I knew then that I had a cheerleader in my corner.”
As Nikki pushed the reset button on her life The Salvation Army also provided her with food, counselling and, most importantly, encouragement.
“The Salvation Army wanted me to succeed and never gave up on me.”
On March 6, 2014, Nikki was two years clean.
Before his death, Nikki met face-to-face with her grandfather and forgave him. This played a powerful role in her healing process.
Nikki has earned the respect of her family again and is enrolled in college to become a social worker.
“The Salvation Army has everything to do with my career choice,” says Nikki. “I want to be that person who gives someone hope. Like what Rob and The Salvation Army did for me.”