'At one point, I thought I was demonic, possessed' - Former gang member tells of how she escaped from a life of crime

'At one point, I thought I was demonic, possessed' - Former gang member tells of how she escaped from a life of crime

Gang violence remains a problem within the UK

Monday, May 2, 2016

Former gang member Tracey Miller has told talkRADIO how a lifetime of crime left her feeling "demonic and possessed" until she escaped from it.

Miller's troubles began from childhood, as she grew up in a household with a mother who was mentally unwell and a father who had been imprisoned when she was five. Around the age of 13, she was expelled from school for attempting to stab a girl who had told her classmates about her mother's mental illness.

By the age of 15, she was involved with a gang, stealing from shops, and was sleeping with a gun beside the bed. Miller told listeners the violence in her life at this time was normal. 

"When you're living in a household which is crazy, you're desensitised to a lot," she told Paul Ross. "I saw mum waving knives around casually on a regular basis.

"So to me, picking up a knife with the intent to harm someone felt natural. I was numb to the world, and at one point, I thought I was demonic, possessed."

In the Brixton riot of 1995, Miller was seriously injured when she was shot by a sawn-off shotgun, but the turning point didn't come until she took an overdose of her mother's anti-psychotic medication a few years later, aged 19. When she woke up in hospital, she was told she was pregnant. 

"To me, this was the sign from God," she added. "It was telling me to change my life, do something with myself.

"It was like waking up from a dream suddenly and knowing it was time to grow up. Life became very serious."

Miller has released a memoir about her experiences, called Sour. She works closely with the One Minute In May campaign, which combats growing youth crime, and also acts a mentor for troubled kids.

The former gang member encourages them to do what they know is right and steers them away from the kind of life she once led. 

"I think we've got a lot of desensitised young people," she said. "I don't think they're walking around with premeditation of murder."

"Every troubled youngster has a broken past. It's a cry for help."