For most of her life, Madison Mitchell has been torn and conflicted as she has been ‘grieving for someone who is still alive.’ Feeling the frustration of living with an alcoholic father, she wants to now reach out to other people who are struggling to cope with a family member’s vices and has set up SAVED (Supporting Addiction Victims Everyday).
Madison still has vivid nightmares and flashbacks of witnessing her father abuse her mum.Admitting she has seen many things a child should never see, the 22-year-old is using her tough upbringing to provide solace to others in Preston.After a year of gathering funding, she is ready to launch SAVED, a support group for addicts’ family members.
Madison admits: “I have grown up with an alcoholic father and that has caused a lot of issues for me. Growing up, I have witnessed things most children and even adults should never see.“I witnessed domestic violence towards my mum whenever he would relapse. I have two younger sisters and although they were too young, it was still hard for them.“My mum felt she could never escape because she thought if she did, that would put us in danger, so she had to put up with it. “I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I often have nightmares, reliving what I saw as a child. I have really bad vivid dreams that have happened in the past. I would go with months without thinking about my dad and then I will have these dreams about something that happened 10 years ago. It brings back terrible emotions. “The worst was when I was about seven or eight. “When my mum was trying her hardest to understand what my dad was going through, he would describe rehab as being in a bubble. “You are protected but as soon as that finishes you are in the real world and you would relapse.
“He talked my mum into buying a pub because it meant he would have to face his demons every day and it would stop him from being in a bubble and relapsing. It worked for a few months but then he hit the bottle.“I remember being in the back of the car outside the pub and my dad came out, with three beer bottles. He smashed them and then cut my mum’s face with the glass. My dad was running around the car, trying to get to my mum and all I could do was sit in the car.“Another time, my dad woke us all up in the middle of the night as he was convinced someone was trying to break in. “But he was hallucinating because he was withdrawing. He dragged my mum down the stairs by the hair and he told her to go to the front door.“It was horrible witnessing a 19 stone man dragging a woman down the stairs by the hair and there was nothing I could do about it.“The next day my dad would feel guilty as he had sobered up. We just didn’t understand what was going on.”
Madison admits talking about her experiences have helped her and she now wants others to gain some peace.She adds: “Speaking about these things does help because it is a stress reliever.“My mum can’t talk about it because it is too much for her, but I believe if she could talk about it, it could help her to move on.“I am grieving for someone who is still alive or doesn’t exist. It is a hard process as one minute that person is there and then they are not and that is why I have set up this group.“It is hard for my four-year-old son to understand why his grandad is not always around. The first time he met him, my dad was drunk and it was heartbreaking, He couldn’t even remember my son’s name.“My gran recently passed away and I had to go to the funeral and see him there. I had to deal with my grief for my gran and seeing him.”
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Madison, who is doing a masters in business at UCLan, is using all her spare time to focus on SAVED.With the support of Preston City Council, UCLan and the NHS, she has gained enough funding to launch a website and is looking for a suitable venue in Preston for meet ups.She says: “I thought of this last year but I didn’t have the time. But now I am in a better place. Although I live in Southport, I wanted to set this up in Preston, as there is a bigger issue there.“Whilst there are many support groups for addicts, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, there is not much for their families.
“When I went to the doctors for my PTSD, the GP referred me to a Mind Matter support group to talk about mental health, but I tried to explain it was not about my mental health. I couldn’t deal with the trauma I had and it had come to the surface.“The only solution was private counselling, which is expensive.“So I wanted something to help others like me.“I got in touch with Preston City Council, who directed me to the right people who could help me and my tutor at UCLan is mentoring me, who has links with Lancashire Teaching Hospital. I have also made links with some prisons in Lancashire and will be visiting the family and friends unit at Wymott Prison,“I have won a social enterprise award at UCLan, which has given me funding to get started.“This has funded my website and I hope to get a venue sorted for our first meet up later this month.”
To keep up to date with the meetings, visit www.supportingaddictionvictims.co.uk.