I got married too young; I was 20 years old. I was looking for any way to leave my house. It was a very stressful environment for me. So, when my marine boyfriend asked me to, it was off to Vegas and out of my house.
The first few years were fine. We moved to upstate New York after he was out of the military. He could not adjust to civilian life and did not want to re-enlist due to fear of deployment to Iraq. He kept getting angry about his work. Around that time I lost my job. He then couldn’t quit his job because he was the only source of income. He convinced me that since we couldn’t make rent, and it was my fault, I needed to dance for two weeks, only to get the rent money, and I would do it if I loved him. The two weeks passed and rent was made. However, when I asked him about his job and about me finding a new one, he let me know that he had quit his job, and that I already had a job, dancing. He said he didn’t have to go to a job he “didn’t believe in” because I made enough to support us both.
This went on for a few years. He would say he hadn’t found a suitable job yet, when, as I found out later, he never looked at all. I would beg him to let me stop, and he became violent, hurting me if I didn’t make enough. He forced me to go. I didn’t want to be at the club and I didn’t want to go home. Often, I slept in my car and I stopped going home altogether. I would pray out of desperation, though, I didn’t believe God was real since there was no evidence in my life. I saved enough money, by not going home and having him take the money, to “move out” (live in my car) and hire an attorney to get a divorce. In this time, another man that I had befriended took me in. I had no choice but to trust him because New York winters get cold and I was near freezing in my car. This situation was only good in that I was able to get a “real” job. But one night, in a drunken rage, he tried to kill me. He also started to beat me. By this time it was spring and it was feasible to live in my car, so I made a run for it.
I continued to dance, work, and live in my car. I eventually got an apartment. Around this time, I read the article about Treasures in Glamour. I was instantly warmed and comforted. I went to the library immediately to use a computer to contact Treasures. Even though I was across the country, the fact that these girls existed somewhere, that someone, somewhere cared about me, changed everything. (My own parents wouldn’t help me when they found out about all the trouble I was in.) I stopped using drugs that day. I had been using a variety for about three years: cocaine, X, and also many prescription painkillers. Money was tight, as I was relying on just my regular job. I would try to rationalize going back “just one more night” to make ends meet. At those times, I would go to the library to use the computer to get on the Treasures website and gather the strength I needed not to go back. If the library was closed I would (amazingly) get a card from Harmony or the Treasures team that expressed their love for me and provided encouragement. Knowing that someone that I had never met, somewhere, was loving and praying for me was all that I needed to stay strong. I still carry every Treasures card with me in my Bible to this day.
I gave my life to Jesus at the end of that year on December 9, 2007 at a nearby church. I plan to start my own business within the next year and give the proceeds to domestic-violence shelter, awareness, and self-defense class charities. The new journey is difficult, but blessed. I always remember, from Matthew 6:26, that He feeds the sparrows everyday, and I am worth more than many sparrows. That has gotten me through it all, along with frequent visits to Treasures’ website and the updates. All of these things help me remember Jesus is here and will be a part of my life despite the mistakes I made.
All my love to Harmony, her family and baby Johnny, as well as the Treasures team, all the girls that are recovering dancers, and the girls who are dancing currently. May Jesus work on their hearts as he worked on mine!