My story begins as a vulnerable little girl from a dysfunctional home. I began using drugs at age 11, was living what they call "the life" by age 14, and was recruited by my pimp at age 22. I grew up thinking, "This is who I am, this is what I'm worth, and there isn't another way." My self-image was shattered and my view of the world was pretty dark.
When I tell people my story they ask, "Why didn't you just stop, leave, or go somewhere else?" Impossible. Imagine being completely controlled by someone stronger than you, someone who never wanted you sober, someone who treated you as an object rather than a human being.
When I found out my pimp was being released from federal prison, the fear that I worked so hard to suppress became a reality. I escaped to St. Louis at that time. Unfortunately, my life wasn't something that was going to change overnight. I suffered from severe PTSD and other mental illnesses. I dealt with my illnesses in the form of substance abuse. After being arrested and sent to drug court, that is when I discovered Healing Action.
Healing Action helped me face the darkness inside of me. What a difference it made to know that I am not alone. In fact, the Healing Action staff and Peer Specialists have experienced the "life" and are now thriving. It helps so much to be able to speak to people who can directly relate to what I am going through. With the help of Healing Action, I have gained employment, coping skills, safe housing and more. But most importantly, I have gained the inspiration and motivation to create a better life for myself.