Viveka’s story

Posted on December 2, 2019 by Iosis

“I was a functioning addict.”

Like so many of the young women we work with, Viveka had a long history of drug abuse and family violence. When her children were uplifted by Oranga Tamariki, she knew it was time to get help.

Viveka's story - mother holding her son's hand as they balance on a fallen log

Viveka’s children have all been exposed to drug use and violence during their lives. Despite being on meth, she says, on the surface, everything was fine. “My children were always fed and went to school with lunch; we had birthday parties. I was a functioning addict.”

Viveka says she’d been taking drugs for at least ten years. “My Mum didn’t know it, but she was enabling me. I’d tell her my benefit didn’t come through and I needed some groceries and she’d give me money which I’d use on drugs.”

She and her children were living with her violent, abusive partner who was also using meth, and things went from bad to worse. After a particularly violent incident, the police were called and her children were taken by OT (Oranga Tamariki). The kids were terrified of her partner, she says. “My boy told his kindy teachers that ‘my mum was punched by my Dad and there was blood all up the wall’.”

Viveka went to Women’s Refuge and her kids went to her father’s house for nine months.

She says OT were great. They said to me, “What do you think you need to do to get your kids back? What can you do to put things right?”

At the time, she felt she had nothing to live for. “I felt like I had failed as a parent. My mum and dad didn’t want to have anything to do with me – it was tough love, which I needed. But my mum became my supervisor so I could see the kids every Sunday – that’s how she supported me.”

Transforming her life, one course at a time

Viveka undertook the Iosis AOD programme and then our Family Resilience programme. “I learnt a lot from the AOD programme. The stages of recovery were really helpful. The coach is amazing – having gone through a similar journey, she gets it.” She also did the Women’s Supporting Safety programme.

“My kids ended up in emergency care and that was a huge motivation for me to change. My older kids are now in counselling and the young ones are doing well. The Family Resilience programme helped me manage the children’s behaviour and think of their individual needs. That we need to respect each other and that we are all in this together,” she says.

“Now I understand the importance of being a good role model to them – if I want my kids to be respectful, then I need to respect them. We now hold each other accountable – I have a big whiteboard in the kitchen and we use that to show our goals and rewards.”

“They’ve been amazing”

Viveka says she has loved all of the Iosis programmes. “NVC (non-violent communication) was amazing – I’ve learnt so much and the Teenage Toolbox was so helpful.

Iosis has been the backbone of educating me. I felt like I started my journey of change with Iosis and they have supported me all the way. If I get in a muddle they are the place I go to for support. I owe my sobriety and my new parenting to Iosis.”

At the time of writing, Viveka has just learned that she has a house in South Auckland for her family. She plans to continue to educate herself to become a better person and parent – and she’d like to one day help others in similar situations.

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