*Not her real name
My story begins when I was a child. My mom was addicted to alcohol and we lived in an abandoned house without any heat. I never knew where my food would come from. My grandparents lived close by and I would visit them and they loved me and helped me. I started using drugs at age 11 because there was nothing else to do. The mailman lived across the street from my grandparents and invited me over for a meal and a warm place to stay. I was only 14 when he abused me and promised me if I had sex with him, he would give me a place to stay and food to eat.
I did not have any other options, so I got deeper into drugs. It seemed like an escape from my reality.
Things grew worse when I got involved with men who sold me so I could get drugs. I was addicted to heroin. The man selling me would lock me in a room with no clothes, he would video me and other girls while I was sleeping, and then he’d get high on crack and do insane things. He was violent and would choke me and punch me … . He made me get on my knees with no clothes on and beg for my life, and then he would tase me over and over and he wouldn’t stop.
Then he would tell me I stole things from him and tell me I owed him $600 and make me pay him back or he said he would kill me. He stomped on girls, too.
It’s over now.
Her Song brought me home to Freedom Cottage and I couldn’t believe it! It is so beautiful and I get to live here. I get to find out who I am. To come home here at Freedom Cottage to me means being surrounded by love and joy and peace, to be warmed by the love of everyone around me and just having the people at Her Song care about me and be involved in my life. Even though I’m still scared sometimes, I’m better now, and I’m safe. It feels amazing to be at a place I can call home and I am reuniting with my family, and we talk a lot and it feels really good.
I have a future.
Read our cover story about Her Song and the work being done locally to help victims of human trafficking break free from the abuse and build safe, healthy lives.