I was born in Bolivar, Tennessee, the youngest child in a large family. I was an intelligent, precocious child, who trusted absolutely everyone. Although I had both parents in the house, my father was an alcoholic and was often abusive to my mother. Yet I still remember growing up loved and happy.
When I was nine years old, my parents divorced. My mother, my older sister, and I moved to Michigan. Once there, she was reunited with a childhood friend who she soon married. My life changed drastically when my mother married this man. He began molesting me when I was ten years old.
Most people knew my stepfather as a quiet, meek individual. I knew him as a person who was sneaky and clever enough to make me seem to be a bad child who misbehaved, set fires, and hated everyone for no reason. My mother never accepted that this had happened to me.
As I look back over my life, I know that this trauma in my childhood set me up for a long string of bad choices and decisions, including drugs, crime, and working in the sex industry. My stepfather’s actions planted a tiny seed in me that said I was worthless, and I believed it.
Everything that I did stemmed from that belief. That tiny seed was watered and it grew. I ended up alone, in and out of jail, and addicted to drugs. I was basically doing anything that would help me to kill myself. I came very close to succeeding, but I had been introduced to God as a child. I could feel this same God saying, “No,” to killing myself. But I was too angry at Him to listen to anything that He had to say. So, I began to search for my own answers and solutions. I repeatedly entered drug treatment facilities desperately searching for someone to cure me from all that ailed me. No one could. I was treated at eight of them, sometimes completing their programs and sometimes buying drugs on my way home from them. I wondered, ”Why couldn’t anyone fix me?” I finally decided that I would die on the street, my body would go unclaimed, and I would be buried in a pauper’s grave. My very last time in jail, I was at the end of my rope-- the part that forms a noose. I was wounded, tired, and ready to die. Suddenly I felt something very pure and sweet descend upon me. I knew that it was the presence of God. He was there in that jail cell with me. He was there to save me! God said, “My precious little girl, I’ve watched you spin your wheels all these years trying to flee from your pain.” God said that I had been looking for a person or place to heal me, when that’s His specialty.
So, the Creator of the universe, the Alpha and the Omega, Jehovah Jireh told me to get up off the floor, dry my tears and together lets go rewrite your story. Page after page, we wrote a new story of restoration, healing, and dignity into my shattered life. We erased the nightmare in which I was a victim, stripper, and addict; and we wrote that I am a lady of honor and integrity-- a virtuous woman. As we wrote, I realized that God was saving me from everything and everyone who had ever let me down, hurt or abused me. He even gave me back my dream of being a nurse. Since that day, I’ve never committed another crime, used another drug, or returned to jail.
Still I was consumed with anger, hatred and unforgiveness for my stepfather, even after his death. It had built a wall of iron around my heart. Then came the epiphany! Through the grace of Jesus Christ, I had been forgiven much. Admitting that His grace was for everyone, including my abuser, was hard--very hard. After much prayer, it was revealed to me that the molestation was not the barrier to my healing, the unforgiveness was. I knew then that the only way that I could step out of my nightmare and into the world was to do the unthinkable – forgive this man, completely and whole-heartedly. Could I do it? For my own benefit and per God’s instruction, I had to do it. The blessing that made it easier was the fact that I knew that he would be dealt with by a God who adores ten year old little girls.
As I forgave him, the lock that had encased my heart for so many years opened; and chains of defeat fell from my body. That is the moment when I knew that I had truly, truly won. I am no longer alone. I am reunited with my family. My beautiful twin nineteen year old children are back in my life. I am also a licensed nurse. I am part of A Way Out, a program that’s committed to helping women like me get out of the sex industry. It’s been my God-send. One of the best gifts I have received during my time at A Way Out is my mentor Linda Tichenor. She was a perfect match. She’s funny and sweet and beautiful, but most of all she’s a Godly Christian mentor who I can strive to be like. I love Mrs. Carol Wiley, our program director, for a million reasons, but most of all, she is strict with me and can correct me, but you know what’s funny? It’s covered with so much sweetness that it doesn’t sting. I know it’s because she loves me, and that she wants what is best for me.