Washed Away: From Darkness to Light

Front Cover
Outskirts Press, Sep 30, 2016 - Biography & Autobiography - 303 pages

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a memoir that recounts the experiences of model Nikki DuBose as she overcomes a more than seventeen-year battle with abuse, child sexual victimization, eating disorders, psychosis, alcoholism, drugs, depression, suicide attempts, body dysmorphic disorder, and various other mental health issues, all while trying to navigate through the dark side of the fashion industry.


Her journey began as a young, introverted child with a florid imagination growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. By the age of eight she had been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused and had developed an eating disorder. The abuse warped Nikki's self-perception and sparked patterns of psychosis, depression and destructive behavior that stayed with her into adulthood. In her early twenties she began working as a television host and started a career in modeling. Eventually Nikki attained success, appearing on the covers of magazines such as Maxim, shooting for editorials like Vanity Fair, Glamour and FHM, and appearing in campaigns for Perry Ellis.


Cast into a world of excess, superficiality, and vanity, Nikki traveled the globe and experienced the finest that the material world had to offer, all while feeling empty inside. Her disorders, addictions and mental health issues took her to the brink of mortality and only though a deeply painful inner-battle and her mother's death was she able to reconnect the lost pieces of her soul and see the person she had so long rejected.


Her recovery from a nearly lifelong struggle with PTSD, psychosis, addictions and eating disorders has left Nikki with a passionate longing to help others who are also suffering by advocating for mental health and self-acceptance.  In America, more than sixty-one million individuals are affected by mental illness. Child sexual abuse affects more than forty-five million people in the United States alone, yet it is still regarded as one of the most shameful issues to date. Eating disorders affect millions and are one of the most destructive and life-threatening mental afflictions today – anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychological illness. Despite the extent of the suffering, eating disorders and mental health issues are poorly understood in popular culture and are often stigmatized, mocked, or even glorified because of misconceptions and ignorance over the seriousness of the manner. Although the modeling industry has made strides towards body diversity in the past couple of years, there is a lack of education and awareness surrounding eating disorders and other mental health issues. We believe that through the recent societal trends and improved sharing of information, we are beginning to break this paradigm, therefore another aim of this book will be to educate the public. Washed Away: From Darkness to Light will serve as a testimony to others to let them know that they are not alone in their fears, doubts, and frustrations, and that through recovery all things are possible.

 “A compelling and educational read about the dark side of the fashion business and its effect on mental health. Nikki draws upon her experiences of overcoming a life-threatening eating disorder as she navigates through the industry, all while wrestling with a broken home life and struggling to discover her inner voice. Nikki’s story is truly remarkable and will serve as a beacon to anyone who has ever doubted their own intrinsic value. I highly recommend Washed Away: From Darkness to Light.”

—Brian Cuban, Attorney, Author (Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder), Activist 

“I was truly amazed by her determination to live life. I saw a woman that had every reason to quit and remain silent, but she chose to break through every obstacle that challenged her. I am very grateful that she has taken on the challenge to not only speak about her experience, but to fight for change in laws that will empower children and survivors to protect themselves. We all need to learn from Nikki and use our voices to create positive change. It is no longer okay for the silence to outweigh the tough discussion. Ignorance will not stop child sex predators from harming our children.”

—Matthew Sandusky, Founder & Executive Director of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, Author (Undaunted: Breaking My Silence to Overcome the Trauma of Child Sexual Abuse), Speaker

“To endure what DuBose has within her first decade proves more than most could handle in a lifetime, yet she looks back at her life with grace and a rare honesty. As she takes us through the overly sexualized fashion industry as an international top model, she gives the no-holds barred account on mental illness, rape, and eating disorders that our society so desperately needs.”

—Neesha Arter, Journalist & Author (Controlled) 

“Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is an incredible story of one brave woman’s perseverance in the face of daunting life circumstances. Nikki DuBose details her chilling experiences with an eating disorder, childhood sexual abuse, alcoholism and drug abuse - and how she found the strength to rise above and find recovery. This powerful read will inspire those in their own recovery journeys.”

—Kristina Saffran, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director at Project HEAL


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This book gives an impression of having been fabricated for the purpose of self-promotion. It has many 'horror fantasy' clichés, and lacks on truth, deep emotions, and character. It seems that the author, being a 'public figure', wanted to draw more attention to her 'persona' by exploiting a trend of #me-too movement. The book is poorly written but quite well edited by James Johanson, presumably. This work cannot be considered as a help book as the author exploited certain notions about mental illness and also about eating disorders to appeal to public at large. However, the author’s advice is useless from the medical or psychological point of view. Those who did indeed suffered in childhood do not tend to rush and tell the story of their life to everyone, they try to forget it and reinvent their lives. Obviously, the author never was really abused on the scale she claims (physical, mental, psychological etc all at once and at the same time), for if she had been it would have taken her the whole life to recover or else she would have ended in the mental institution. Also, wanting to be a model and then using it to create out of oneself a victim in order to be 'admired' is rather undignified and immoral. But again, when 'modelling away' to exhibit oneself in all senses was dignified?
Not recommend it to anyone who is truly abused or suffers from any of the mentioned in the book disorders for the simple reason that Nikki Dubose is not truthful but exploitative of media and is addicted to exhibitionism. The book is narcissistic – stay away!

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Reviewed by Patricia Day for Readers' Favorite
Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, a memoir written by Nikki Dubose with James Johanson, is a series of dark memories of her dysfunctional family
life, and the misery caused by addictions and abuse. Nikki Dubose recounts the tragic story of her life, dealing with severe eating disorders and mental challenges. Her sad story reveals a less-than-glamorous look at the world of modelling. While she is not casting aspersions on the high class world of models, she does reveal how physical and mental issues can greatly affect the choices one makes. As family and friendships come and go, and people accept then reject her, she finally grasps an opportunity to turn from her ugly duckling persona in order to become a beautiful cleansed swan – metaphorically speaking.
A powerful story in which Nikki reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly of many aspects of growing up in a highly dysfunctional home. Loving was always beyond her reach until she realized that one simple step could help her. This is a graphic tale of her young life, her adult choices; her failed relationships and self-hatred. I felt myself wanting to reach out and shake her, while trying to understand the rationale behind her life decisions. Of course, not having been exposed to some of the horrors that she has, I found that difficult to do. The book goes into great, lurid detail of eating disorder behaviour, and contains a lot of profanity. I found it a hard book to read, but one that is very compelling in the message it delivers. Not an easy read. I would recommend this book for adults only.


Stolen Innocence
Binge Eating Bulimia Mommas Demons
BDD Sexual Abuse Domestic Violence
Sex Suicide Addiction Bullying Divorce
Name Your Price Snort Some More
My Life as a TwentySomethingYearOld Model
My Battle with Anorexia and the Modeling Industrys Love Affair with It
Saying Goodbye
Weathering the Storm of Recovery

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2016)

Nikki DuBose is a former model, host, and commercial actress who has appeared on the covers of and in editorials for magazines such as Maxim, Glamour, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She recently turned her career focus towards writing, public speaking, and mental health advocacy and draws firsthand experience from a long-standing battle with childhood abuse, sexual victimization, self-harm, addictions, eating disorders and various mental health issues. Her articles appear regularly online for The Huffington Post, the National Eating Disorders Association, Eating Disorder Hope, Recovery Warriors and Clinical Addiction Recovery Institute (C.A.R.I.).

Her recovery story and advocacy work have been profiled on CBS Los Angeles, People, The Inquisitr, L.A. Weekly and Esquire, among many others. In addition to writing, speaking and advocacy, Nikki is pursuing her degree in psychology, with the goal of one day obtaining her Ph.D. 

For more information, please visit her website at nikkidubose.com. Collaborator James Johanson is a strategy consultant, author of The Road to Wellness: Mastering Mind, Body and Environment, and consultant for Sittin’ On Dyno-Might! How to Manage YOU for Success and various academic publications. He has obtained his M.S. emphasizing emotional intelligence, organizational development and adult education.

Bibliographic information