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Addiction Recovery Research Center

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

2 Riverside Circle

Roanoke, VA  24016

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Phone: 540-315-0205

Email: iqrr@vtc.vt.edu

Media Inquiries:

John Pastor, FBRI Director of Communications

Phone: 540-526-2222

Email: jdpastor@vt.edu

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Terri’s Story

“Hi, My Name is Terri and I am an Addict and Alcoholic.

I am a Survivor of Child Abuse. I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused until I was 18. I started drinking at 13. It helped me to numb out when I was being abused. And helped me to cope afterwards. At 15 I cut my wrist and that is when I told my mom what was happening to me. Her response to me was – I knew something was happening to you and I thought it was your dad. OMG, not my dad….My dad was an alcoholic too but my dad never hurt me. I just felt neglected by him, because if he wasn’t working he was at the bar drinking. He died of cancer and had 9 years of sobriety. Anyway, my abuse was never talked about again. I never got any help and the abuse continued. And my drinking got worse. I quit school in the 10th grade and just stayed high. I was raised in Denver and through my teenage years several of my friends died from car crashes, accidental gun shots wounds, over doses. ( All alcohol and drug related ) But alcohol wasn’t the problem….it was the solution….to stay numb from all the pain, all the loss, all the abuse. At 18 a married a marine who lived in Kansas City. (That was going to be the answer) I will move and get away from everything and everyone. So I did the geographical change thing. But the way I felt inside didn’t change and I drank and drugged everyday still. By the time I was 23 I had 3 children. I was able to quit drinking and drugging during my pregnancies. (Thank God) But once the children were born I picked up where I left off. At 26 years old I started having flashbacks. I had 3 small children to take care of and I couldn’t even take care of myself. I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t leave my house. I was very suicidal. I ended up in treatment where they talked about things like Flashbacks, PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic and Anxiety Attacks, Depression, Substance Abuse. Finally I knew what was wrong with me and I was getting help. I also realized I wasn’t alone. Other people felt the same way that I did, and some of the other women in treatment had been abused. I started taking medications and going to therapy. But I still struggled. I don’t know what was worse, remembering the abuse or not remembering the abuse. I felt like I was reliving my abuse, and drinking was still my solution. It still had the ability to keep me numb. I got to the point that I couldn’t function. I couldn’t keep a job or a boyfriend. We kept having to move because I couldn’t pay the rent. My poor children had no stability. I don’t know how I was able to keep them. I went to treatment 3 more times, always on the psychiatric side. Never looking at my alcoholism or my abuse of drugs. Finally they sent me to treatment again. This time the mental ward was closed, so they put me on the drug and alcohol side. They stated that they didn’t know what they were going to do with me. They introduced me to the 12 steps and said to apply them to my abuse. I had to go to the groups and listen to people’s stories. I always look at the differences. I hadn’t been to jail, or got a DUI or anything like that….YET….. They say that God puts people in our lives for a reason…..I had started going to school and me and this gal named Carol had a lot of the same classes and she started picking me up every day. She attended Alcoholic Anonymous. She actually took my dad to his first meeting. She was beautiful and vibrant and I was so jealous of her. She was the type of friend that would put her finger in my face and tell me that I needed to quit drinking. Because by this point the alcohol had quit working. It wasn’t numbing the pain anymore. As a matter of fact, it seems like it was intensifying all those feelings. So I started going to meetings but I would not admit to being an alcoholic. Where I live there are 2 meetings every day and for those 2 hours I felt safe. But the other 22 hours I was terrified. I started to pretty much live at the club. It took about 2 months of listening to other people’s stories before I started to see the similarities. OMG I am an ALCOHOLIC. Finally admitting that I was an alcoholic and starting to work the steps saved my life. It is the best thing I ever did for myself and my children. I still struggle. I have relapsed a couple of times because I thought it was going to be my solution again. My dad dying of cancer was the worst thing I have ever gone through. I felt so blessed to have the relationship with my dad. We had become so close because of Alcoholics Anonymous. I couldn’t bear watching my dad suffer and I started drinking. We have had a lot of loss. My dad, my grandma, 2 uncles, 1 aunt, my best friend, and so many members of the program have died. Mostly overdoses and suicide. I have heart disease. I have had a couple heart attacks, and mini strokes. I had cervical cancer. Having to learn to live LIFE ON LIFES TERMS.

The most important thing that I want to share is my story of FORGIVENESS. My uncle had sexually abused me starting at 3 years old. And my oldest brother use to beat me up constantly and emotionally tearing me down. Even when I was an infant he would pull my hair and pinch me, anything to make me cry. Anyway, my grandmother was in the hospital and she was 83 and she was dying. When I got the call that she had passed away I raced to the hospital. When I got there the uncle that abused me was on his kneeling and rubbing his hands through his deceased mother’s hair. I knelt down beside him and started to rub his back. It wasn’t until later that night that I realized OMG I was comforting the man that had abused me. The man that had caused so much pain in my life. All that pain and hate was gone. GOD had done for me what I couldn’t do myself.

One thing that isn’t brought up much in AA is Abuse. I want women to know that there is HOPE and FORGIVENESS. I had to start reaching outside the rooms of AA to help with my abuse issues. There is RECOVERY. I have found other ways to share My Experience, My Strength, and My Hope with other SURVIVORS. I have written a book of poems about Abuse, Recovery, and Spirituality. A couple of my poems have won national awards. I am a crime victim’s advocate. I am a speaker for RAINN – Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Alcoholics Anonymous and my Higher Power has given me that strength and courage. God again, has done for me what I couldn’t do for myself. I no longer swallow the poison (that was killing me) and expecting others to die. I have Peace and Joy and Love in my Heart today. I know what it is like to feel Happy, Joyous and Free.

If you are hurting and need help…..There is Help……There is Hope…..God Bless You on your journey. Remember Alcohol is just a symptom of our disease. If you are suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts or actions. If you have an anxiety, panic, eating, cutting, disorder. Please reach out and get help.”