I remember walking into the first day of kindergarten and immediately noticed that I was different from the others in class. Was it the way I looked? Was it the way I acted? Was I the only one in the room that noticed?
Years before that first day, I understood that I had “outside” parents and “inside” parents. In front of the outside world, they were loving and nurturing and often funny. Inside the walls of our home, my parents abused me physically, mentally, and sexually.
I often wondered what my friend’s “outside” parents were like on the inside.
I always believed that the abuse itself was wrong, but I also believed that I was the source of the wrong, not my parents. The constant struggle of trying to act normal despite my home life was too difficult for my mind. I didn’t know it, but I developed Dissociative Identity Disorder when I was very young.
In middle school, I began to suffer from an eating disorder. By controlling the food that I ate and physically harming my body in other ways, I found a sense of relief and control. I had multiple pregnancies while I was still in school. Handling the added stress of being pregnant on top of everything else pushed my suicidal thoughts to become suicide attempts.
I always felt separate and isolated, even though I was surrounded by teachers and counselors. I never asked them for help, and I don’t think I would have let them help even if they had noticed. Looking back, I understand that I never considered their help an option.
As a teenager, I fell into an abusive relationship. My boyfriend knew my struggles with self-image and convinced me that I would make a perfect model. He even had a friend that could do a free portfolio for me to help me get started. He trafficked me and I didn’t even know what was happening.
I didn’t start a lucrative career in modeling. I ended up on the street, homeless and hungry and desperate. I felt that I had no choice to do what I did to survive. I didn’t feel worthy of doing anything better.
One day, someone told me about Safe House Project. I called them, and they immediately started working to find me a safe place to go. At first, I just saw it as a way to escape living on the streets. Now, I realize the offer for help means so much more than just leaving homelessness.
Today, I am able to believe that I can live in safety and freedom. Today, I have hope for the first time in my life.
#freedom #safety #survivor #survivorstory #safehouseproject