Survivor of sexual abuse, drug and alcohol dependency hopes his 'meaningful mahi' will help others

Warning: This story discusses sexual abuse and drug and alcohol dependency.

Dallas Rahui Te Ahuru Adams is a survivor of sexual abuse and decades of drug and alcohol dependency, but it was through physical strength and fitness that he overcame his past.

The 37-year-old is Aotearoa's most-capped F45 member, attending more than 1000 classes. But it's his inner strength that defines his identity. 

"F45 has really been a blessing, a huge blessing. If this wasn't here, I wouldn't be where I am today," he told The Hui.

"I wanted to start rebuilding the foundations that I didn't know I had which helped me stay consistent and helped me go through all the pain."

Adams said he was just five years old when the sexual abuse started, adding he was so young at the time he thought it was normal.

"I was asleep in one of the bedrooms and woke up to being molested and being abused."

Adams said the abuse lasted for five years. When he reached 10 years of age he put a stop to it and a few years later he worked up the courage to tell his whānau.

"They were shocked, they were all shocked and that was them being angry about it, disappointed but they didn't know so I don't blame them."

Dallas Adams.
Dallas Adams. Photo credit: The Hui

To cope with his mamae, Adams turned to drugs and alcohol. What started as recreational use spiralled into 20 years of substance abuse.

"I thought that was the way to feel good and to feel better. Not knowing that that's for a moment in time, and then after that, that's when the crash starts to happen and the withdrawals."

Adams came at a crossroads in his life but said joining F45 was an awakening for him in his life. Since signing up in 2018, he's dropped over 20kgs and is now five years sober.

Adams now works as a health coach at Health Hawke's Bay, helping others to make positive changes in people's lives.

"It's mahi that's meaningful. So I look forward to helping others in that way," he said.

"When you see their journey at the beginning, they walk into your office, you know, you have to pass the tissues and all that kind of stuff. And then a couple of sessions later or several sessions they've completely transformed in their way of their own healing."

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and the Public Interest Journalism Fund.