Everything negative that could happen to a person happened to Patricia Walsh. She was sent to jail for dealing drugs, was hooked on pure methamphetamine and suffered a life of violence. But an ultimatum from her son and then tertiary education helped Patricia's remarkable change.
Last July Patricia Walsh spoke honestly about her journey of change on Native Affairs in the hope her story would inspire others.
As a child, Patricia says she was vulnerable and had to learn to fend for herself. Her father was in and out of jail and her mother was an alcoholic. And their home was known as a party house and an unsafe place for a child.
She says, “The sexual abuse for me it didn't stop in my house until I was 12. I probably had 50 different perpetrators in my life.”
Patricia says “I would shut my eyes and pretend that I wasn’t there. It wasn’t my body. That if I just didn’t move that they would go away and it would stop.”
Patricia fled home at 13 and ran to the Mongrel Mob, where she met the father of her first two children. Her successive partners brought their own horror stories that her son Johnny and his siblings witnessed.
“It was quite bad sometimes,” says son Johnny Walsh. “Two black eyes. You know, beaten, really bad. Like they were beating up another man they hated.”
Patricia's life spiralled out of control, into a life of crime - and 144 convictions.
In 2004 she was found with almost a kilo of cannabis and more than 200 LSD trips during a Police bust in Palmerston North. Patricia got six and a half years jail time.
Six years later and out of jail Patricia was back in the world of P. It was the final straw for Johnny, who now had his own family.
“I think I just told her that I didn’t want anything to do with her, or her to have anything to do with the kids and that, if that’s the sort of person she was wanting to be,” says Johnny.
His ultimatum hit home with Patricia. She says, “My son had always cared for me. He’d taken on that role and to know that I was going to lose him. He’d been my rock. He was my, I don’t know, he was everything to me my son.”
But although her heart was willing, Patricia still had to conquer own demons.
“I said to him, ‘I can do it. I'm going to go to rehab, and that,’ she says. “But in the back of my head, I was thinking I was going to just bullshit. You know, I was going to say the say, but not do the do because I still felt that need for that pipe.”
Patricia did find the courage to change her life, though.
She says, “I had to earn their trust again. I had to learn to trust myself. I got clean with just him having that, bringing up in me, a belief in myself. A belief I never got taught through my whole life.”
Patricia says it's been a huge journey learning about herself.
“I have a lot more love for myself. I can kind of look in the mirror now, which is something I haven’t been able to do most my life. But it’s that knowing I want things to be different for my moko.“