We are always so blessed by residents when they open up in vulnerability, reflect on their lives, and share with us. This story will hurt you to read. Her journey was painful, and it sadly began when she was a young student in middle-school. It is through our residents and their stories that we’ve realized how desperately students need to be reached. Our Student Prevention Program launched this month. The program came to life because of stories like this one. So to every resident past and present, we celebrate your metanoia and the impact it’s had on Refuge for Women.
My story begins so long ago… when I was a child I felt the presence of a creator. I felt a love that I knew nothing about but wanted to understand. I wasn’t ever exposed to the Church or to Christ, so I had no idea how to express what I felt and longed for. I knew there was a love far greater than I had ever experienced, so much more stable and inviting than I was used to having. My desire to learn about this love was diminished in junior high when I discovered I could find what I thought was love and acceptance in sin. The enemy used everything I had ever wanted against me. I began to feel “love,” intimacy, and a certain kind of closeness in my life. I used my body, alcohol, and other substances as a ticket to this exciting place I had found, and wanted to stay. As the years went on I lost all value in myself, my family, and my life. I now valued the feeling I received from promiscuity, and the many substances.
All this continued to increase in variety, strength, and abundance. By the age of eighteen, I was physically addicted and dependent. I was in the midst of a life I was no longer in control of. At 23, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, who I lost all rights to before she was a year old. I felt I lost the pure love I so desperately needed. To be fair, I was not capable of being the mother she so deserved; I could not go a day without getting high. My little girl was with my father. So I did what any good addict would do, I ran 1,300 miles away from the pain of my life. But of course I took myself with me, and ended up in the same place, just a different spot on the map. I was losing pieces of myself around every corner, I was shattered and lost. After two years of another downward spiral I was blessed with another precious life. My second daughter, also, went to live with her grandpa. I now thank the Lord for protecting my babies from what would happen next.
The drugs and sin had complete control of me and led me down a path to become enslaved to a man who would take over my life. My life was now his, my body, now his possession. I thought I was worthless; my only purpose was to be exactly what he needed me to be and others wanted me to be, and exactly when I was told to be it. I began to believe my life would never change, that I would never have a choice, that I would never have free will again. I began to pray to that still small voice, that peace I once felt. “Please help me…Please just let me die next time….Please end this, end the pain, end this torture…I’m so so so sorry I chose this life…Help me, I’m begging you, take me away from here, I can’t do this!!!”
I was a forgotten used up toy, a plaything. I was an unnoticed invisible nasty stain; or so I thought. What I didn’t realize is that I hadn’t chosen my circumstances. I was a victim of the enemy and human sex trafficking. I had no idea that my Heavenly Father had not forgotten about the little girl who just wanted to know His name and who He was. I had no idea that my Savior Jesus Christ loved me, that He could see me in all my brokenness and that I mattered to Him. I had no idea that the Holy Spirit was always with me, He felt my pain, gathered my tears and held my hand even when I didn’t know He was there.
I also had no idea that they already had a strategic rescue plan in place. They were going to send their most brave angels in green uniforms to save me. The local county sheriffs came and arrested me. I was put in a correctional housing unit called “the God Pod,” the Lord met me right there, and for the first time I felt something I had never truly felt; free. I had found my freedom behind bars. He started working on my heart in amazing ways. I finally felt valuable and I wanted to know more about my Savior. Upon release from jail I went to a safe house until I was led to come to Refuge for Women, a safe house and residential program for sex trafficking survivors.
God’s amazing work has awakened in me a love far greater than anything I had ever experienced. I compare my past life to the horrific and heinous nightmare-kind-of-groundhog day, living the same day over and over. Now I’m Sleeping Beauty, a beautiful and loved princess, gently brought back to life by the love of Christ and my wonderful family at RFW. Today I have a beautiful relationship with my nine and seven year old daughters because I now live my life in pursuit of Christ. I am able to live out loud, laugh until it hurts, and love others with everything I am. I have experienced God’s gentle grace and mercy in my healing, and I thank Him for that every day. I live my life in a new way because today “I fix my eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, and what is unseen is eternal.”
A few weeks ago while visiting a local church, the pastor was speaking about baptism which was something I’ve wanted to do. As I was listening to the service I kept steadily feeling that nudge; you know, the kind that almost knocks you off your seat. Then there was complete confirmation when he spoke of a word I am so familiar with, and that holds so much meaning for me. This word is METANOIA which means; the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life. The process of experiencing a ‘break down” and the subsequent positive psychological re-building and healing. A transformative change of heart: a spiritual conversion.
It is no accident that today I am celebrating 13 months clean, sober, and safe. I’m sharing and celebrating with the world what Christ my Savior has done in my life and with my soul, and I’m celebrating my Spiritual Conversion;
This is my
Disclaimer: Resident quotes and testimonies are provided for use by Refuge for Women, Inc. and its subsidiaries for the purpose general communications and updates to staff, volunteers and potential supporters of Refuge. Identities of residents should always be protected. The contents of testimonies should not be used for any professional publications without permission from Refuge for Women, Inc.