“I was a domestic captive; I knew full well that if I did not do exactly as I was told I would be beaten or killed.”
I was born into a family that abused, exploited and trafficked me from a very early age. I never knew what a “normal” childhood was. I never had the experience of celebrations, vacations, and friendships. I only knew the pain of life as an exploited girl with experience of torture and abuse.
Early on, I learned that I could not say “no” to my father without being physically abused. The first time he took me out of the house at night to be sold for sexual services to a group of men, I was still a very young child.
There were no physical bars on the house I lived in, but there were invisible bars that kept me trapped in every way. I was a domestic captive; I knew full well that if I did not do exactly as I was told I would be beaten or killed.
As I got older, and my father continued to both “groom” me and abuse me, the exploitation became worse. In short, I was enslaved to him. I never thought that I had any value apart from being sold as a sexual object. My father frequently told me that I was created to be his slave, to be used for his pleasure and to create income for him. This was ingrained in me and I believed that I had no purpose apart from “serving” him.
The trauma made it difficult for me to do well in school. As a result I was diagnosed with a learning disorder. Because of this, I never thought that I could learn or do much on my own. Life seemed hopeless and I did not think that anyone would ever want me or care about me apart from using me for sexual services.
I had no family support throughout my life. The people who were supposed to take care of me were the very people who were exploiting me. I simply survived one moment to the next, and at times it would be a miracle to make it to the next day.
Many nights, my life was in danger, and I wondered why I survived to see the morning again. I often felt worthless and wondered if the fight for life was worth it, especially since all I was ever told I was good for was sex.
When I finally was able to get away from my father, there was still a great deal of pain in my heart. One day, at a music festival, I heard about a God who cares about me and I realized I was deeply empty inside. I did not trust anyone enough to tell them about this realization, but when I got home, I prayed by myself. God heard my cry and my life has never been the same. It has been a long, hard road but worth every step.
When I contacted Treasures, I had been in recovery for a while, but I still wasn’t sure that anyone could love me or care about me especially if they knew about my past. I started to get to know some of the people there and was shown so much love and community it was just overwhelming to me. Even when I shared things from my past, I was treated with such love that my heart began to soften. In time, I finally realized that I could be loved by other people as well as God.
Treasures has shown great love to me and helped me to realize that I was loved and valued regardless of what had happened in my life. Today, I know that I am no longer alone and that there is a community of women who understood some of things I have been through in life.
In August of 2014, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Arts and Intercultural Studies with an emphasis on Children At Risk, from Fuller Seminary. I was even able to intern with Treasures to fulfill part of my graduate school requirements!
I am dedicated to the work of Treasures as they work to bring restoration to those who have experienced exploitation and its effects in their lives. I plan to continue to use my educational and personal experience to advocate for victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.