You see my smile, not my pain.
You notice my cuts, but not my scars.
You can read my lips, yet not my mind.
If I told you my story, you would hear victory over the enemy.
If I told you my story, you would hear freedom that was won for me.
If I told you my story, you would hear life overcome the grave.
If I should speak let it be of the grace that is greater than all.
Of when justice was served, where mercy wins, and kindness that draws me in.
To Tell My Story:
Some may think that strength means never to feel. I disagree. The strongest people are those who have felt pain, understood it, accepted it, and learned from it. I used to pretend to be okay rather than deal with the pain of telling the truth. The loss and hurt was so overwhelming, words could not be formed.
I would like to invite you for a few minutes to walk in my shoes. I was during a time I felt all alone. My worth was the price tag which was put on my body. Picture and ugliness and pain so bad that I’d do or try anything to be numb. The only ones that surrounded me were there to sell me drugs or to use my body. I had no one. I spiraled down into a black hole and got stuck. I could not escape. I quit caring and I could not face anyone or anything anymore. Nobody looked for me. My family did not come for me. After all, I’m a grown-up and I am just screwing up again is what I am sure they thought. I’m not sure I could have faced them anyway. I lost my daughter. When I checked, she was calling someone else Mommy and Daddy.
As the pain increased I wanted to die. I was lonely, didn’t care, and my only mission now was death. I tried. I told God he wasn’t being fair. If a horse is ill, don’t we just let them die? I asked people to do it for me. I said, “Please take me Lord.” I couldn’t stand to look in the mirror any more at an ugly, skinny, and lost soul. I felt like I was looking at another person and their life.
And then it happened. On May 28, 2015, I was arrested in Lakewood during a sting operation. I learned later the operation was not a general sweep but one targeted just to rescue me. This was the moment I realized how awful my life had become. But for some reason, this time, I wasn’t scared. I saw kind eyes and was told by the team that they knew about my life, knew some of my journey, and wanted to provide a way out. For that moment I was okay. But as I learned to trust, I realized that family is not just blood but friends and rare individuals that reach down to dark places and offer a hand. I took the hand. I then discovered there are people in this world that want me in theirs, not a cost, just because. These people, many of you who are in this room, accepted me for who I was. You saw through the ugly and saw I had something to offer. You fought for me and brought back my smile. You led me back into the light. I want you to know you have changed my life forever. You took the time to seek me out, not judge me, and listen. Your kindness and your hardcore strength helped save my life.
To my Support Team at Streets Hope and My sisters Forever – for the last year you have listened to me, gave me hope when I had none, loved me when I couldn’t love myself, and called me beautiful when I felt ugly. This made me believe it and gave me strength to now be able to share with my sisters what you have taught me. You brought back my smile. The compassion, love and strength you have shown has ignited my inner fire to help any one I can. In the past year I have achieved more than I ever imagined. I am sober now. I love me now. I love and trust others. I laugh now. Additionally, on February 10, 2017 you gave me the strength to face my former trafficker in court who was on trial for not just trafficking myself but others. As a result of my testimony he was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
My Personal Mantra:
To paint a picture of peace for women whom I’ve helped or touched. To show compassion and love. To set an example by using truth and humor. To open eyes for women to see the small things in life. To obtain the things I once sought out and to share my life and story to save those who cannot save themselves.