As with many cases of addiction Christina’s substance abuse began at an early age and involved multiple influencing factors including family history of addiction, and sexual and physical abuse. Her parents had an abusive relationship and her father beat the children as well. At the age of seven, Christina was molested by her father. Before the end of eighth grade, she had moved more than 22 times and had been in 14 different schools, so she had no real roots in the community.
When she told her mother that her father was molesting her, she fled with Christina to a domestic violence shelter. The father was charged with 23 counts of molestation, but the charges were dismissed. Christina moved with her mother to Arizona where she was often left alone to watch her brothers and sister while her mother worked. At the age of 13, she began drinking and stealing with the neighbor kids. The following year, she was sent back to live with her father, at which point her father raped her. At 15, she was sent to live with her mother’s mother and did well for a while playing sports. She especially liked volleyball.
Although Christina was doing well in her environment at school, she always felt like a big void was in her life from missing her mother. Christina moved back to Arizona to be with mother and found that her mother had remarried. There was lots of drinking and pot smoking in the house, and Christina was often confused with the new environment that she was living in now with her mother. She was befriended by a teacher and would often talk with the teacher about her home situation and her confusion about the lifestyle her mother and new husband led. Christina’s teacher had many concerns about what Christina had shared with her and placed a call to Child Protective Services. Christina was moved to foster care where the boy in the house next door introduced her to methamphetamine. At the age of 17, Christina became pregnant with her first child. At the age of 20, Christina married the boy next door who turned out to be physically abusive to her.
At the age of 21, she became pregnant with her second child. She moved to Wisconsin and got off the methamphetamine, but was still addicted to alcohol exhibiting “crazy behavior” and blacking out. Christina and her husband went their separate ways after Christina abandoned her daughters and left her husband to take care of both children by himself. Christina’s husband and her daughters moved back to Arizona and Christina remained in Wisconsin. At that point, she entered another abusive relationship and began doing drugs again. Christina found a way to escape the abusive relationship and moved back to Arizona to live with her mother. Christina eventually became immersed in her addiction with methamphetamine. Christina involved herself in another relationship that consisted of daily drug selling.
“Day by day I was just selling my soul. You get to a point where there’s nothing left to sell”.
In 2001, she was arrested for forgery and was sentenced to Work Furlough and probation. Christina chose not to return to Work Furlough and ran from the law for the following three years. At that time, she gave birth to a baby who was drug exposed and removed by Child Protective Services.
“I thought I was the lowest form of scum on earth, a drug addict mother who abandoned her children. The level of depression I was experiencing was so great, that I’m surprised I didn’t take my own life”
Two years later, she got a phone call from her estranged brother. They prayed together.
“I prayed that God would send the cops to me because I didn’t have the courage to turn myself in.”
The next day the police knocked on her door. She felt scared and relieved all at the same time.
“All the abuse, running, trauma, fear…it was done”
She was grateful to the man who had come to arrest her.
“Sometimes there are people that are so far down in life that they need someone to come down in the trenches of hell and get them”. The policeman was that person for Christina.
“The policeman wasn’t rude or mean. He saw that I was in a real bad place.”
Pregnant and in jail she desperately asked the judge for a second chance. In 2006, she delivered her youngest son. He was born drug free. Upon release, the judge sent Christina to NCADD to complete her treatment. The judge told her, she had a lot to prove. Her son’s grandfather took her to treatment every day. When at NCADD, she heard about Weldon House.
“I was nervous and scared, but felt like I didn’t want to be a burden to my son’s grandfather anymore. So, I went and it was life-changing”
Weldon House provided Christina with a clean, sober environment with a home of her own. There, she was surrounded by other women who had been through similar experiences and shared her goals.
“At Weldon House, I was taught this is right and this is wrong…all those things I was never taught as a child”
She had a safe place to grow as a person and learn important life skills.
“I learned how to make friends, how to budget, time management, keep my home, and be a good parent”
Christina completed all that she was asked to do to regain the custody of her youngest son. Christina says, the judge told her: “It is like the heavens have opened up and God is blessing this court room and you are like a breath of fresh air to this court room”.
She utilized NCADD resources to get her GED, go back to school and secure employment. After two and half years at Weldon House, Christina graduated the program. Two years after completing the Weldon House program, Christina joined the NCADD team and served as a Peer Support for women coming through the program behind her.
Christina was promoted from a Peer Support to a Case Manager in the Healthy Connections program at NCADD. Christina felt that she had an opportunity to help other struggling pregnant women that were suffering from drug addiction just as she once had done. In the spring of 2016, Christina received her Bachelor’s degree in Family and Human Development from Arizona State University. Christina currently holds the position of Job Development Coordinator in NCADD’s vocational department. Christina is excited about her new role at NCADD as she feels that she can help women believe in their dreams again by assisting them with obtaining their GED, gaining employment, and returning to school just as she has done for herself. Christina has had her civil rights restored, holds a Level One Fingerprint Clearance card, and has been granted Central Registry Exception, which are difficult things for a person with a history such as Christina’s.
Christina is now working on her Master’s degree at Arizona State University and has a great relationship with her son who has autism – she acts as an advocate on his behalf – and is working on her relationship with her other children. She is a Sunday school teacher and is focused on serving the community.
“I am the person who will come down into the trenches and pull the person out now. I didn’t have what it takes to ask for help…someone had to come and get me. I am proud to be that person for someone else. I have purpose.”