Fighting addiction and trauma, women in custody turn to Calgary treatment centre for second chance

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Women in custody reach out to Calgary treatment centre for second chance
WATCH: Fighting addiction and trauma, women in custody are reaching out to a Calgary treatment centre, hoping for a second chance. Jayme Doll has more on how one woman who has been in trouble with the law is hoping to turn her life around in Part 2 of this series – Oct 12, 2020

This is Part 2 of this series. Read Part 1 here.

Since the age of 13, she’s been in and out of correctional facilities.

“I have multiple, multiple charges of all sorts from fraud to [breaking and entering] in businesses… abuse, assaults, domestic… Just stuck in a world of hell and trying to crawl ourselves out, but when you do, you feel like somebody again,” said Ray, whose identity Global News is protecting for safety reasons.

The mother of a 10-year-old boy said she’s been battling drug addiction and mental illness, saying in her 20s, she turned to a life in the sex trade.

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“I was my own boss but there were scary times. You can get kidnapped, you can get trafficked to different places, and I know women who went missing,” she said. “I’ve seen overdoses, I’ve seen really crazy stuff and how sad we’ve become. It’s a sad place to be,” said Ray, admitting she was also living a reckless life.

Now nearly 37, Ray said she was released from the Calgary Remand Centre in the summer and given another chance at freedom — but with conditions.

“If I do not complete what I asked for — my treatment here — I get two-and-a-half years in the pen. I really thought about that as well, and I don’t want to go there, and I have a son,” she said.

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She’s now at RESET, a one-of-kind treatment centre in Calgary that supports women who have been sexually exploited and trafficked, and are battling addictions. They are given a safe place to live, learn life management skills, heal trauma and get clean.

There’s about a six-week waiting list to get in, and RESET said it has been getting more calls from women in custody wanting to get into the program.

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“I believe we’ve had probably three or four recently from jail. They’re doing really well, they are working really hard and they are excited to be here. I think they are feeling really safe because of all the precautions that we have as well as keeping them informed but they are still able to work on themselves and get educated and start healing themselves,” said Kayla Campell, a RESET case worker.

Ray has been here before but said she only lasted six weeks. She insists she’s determined now more than ever to once and for all get on the right track for both herself and her son.

“If you’re not ready, you’ll leave… It’s not the program; it’s the person,” she said. “I will work as hard as I can to keep my recovery as hard as I did with my addiction.”

So far, she’s five months sober, slowly but steadily fighting to be the person she knows she can be.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, a 24/7 hotline with critical resources is available to Canadians in more than 200 languages. The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at 1-833-900-1010.

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