We recently received this email from an anonymous girl who wanted to tell her story. These are her words and we are honored to share it on her behalf. Her story is long so we have decided to post it in two parts. The next post will be posted next couple of weeks. We pray for her continued healing and hope that she is surrounded by love, where ever she may be.

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I was raped at 13 years of age by one of my mom’s boyfriend’s customers. He had been dating my mom for about six months. They both liked to get high together and when he drank he would get really “handsy” with me. My mom hooked up with him because she was addicted to heroin and he was her dealer. I wouldn’t find out until I was an adult that he use to coerce her into having sex with his friends in exchange for heroin. Because being dope sick is the worst kind of sickness you can experience, she would reluctantly do whatever she needed to do in order to mot be sick anymore.

I grew up on Howett St. in Peoria, Illinois. We were evicted from our home on the north side of town when my dad left. After bouncing around for several years we moved in with my mom’s boyfriend on the south side of town. This is where I was raped. My mom was gone and I was home alone with him. A guy I had seen around the house a few times stopped by to buy some dope. I was watching TV in the living room and they were in the kitchen. I could hear this guy talk about how hot he thought I would be as I grew up and that he would give anything to have someone like me. That’s all it took for my mom’s boyfriend. He told his customer that for the right price he could have me right now. That’s when everything changed for me.

Her boyfriend told me that if I told my mom or anyone else he would hurt us, me and my mom. I was scared of him and I knew he had guns in the house. Besides, when I use to beg mom to leave she would tell me that he provides really good for us and she wouldn’t be able to take care of me the way he does. So, I never said anything. That customer would come by one a week. Pretty soon he just started coming by to see me.

I learned to disconnect my mind from my body when I’d have sex with him and others. My therapist called dissociation. She says it’s a survival skill that helped me navigate traumatic experiences. The only problem was I couldn’t do that every time. I hated the way they smelled and felt so, having watched my mom for years “nodding off” I decided that’s what I’d need if I had to keep doing this. I skipped smoking and snorting and went right to the needle.

The first time I stuck that needle in my arm I blew two veins but got it on the third try. Why I didn’t stop after the first two I’ll never know. I just wanted to numb myself and forget for a while. I had come to hate myself and my body. It had become an object to the men that come by the house, an object for their pleasure. They were typically nice to me but I hated every last one of them. Some were rough and would hit me but that was rare. Mostly, they’d do their business and then throw some money on the mattress and leave without saying a word. Between the dissociation, the cutting I had started doing, and the heroin, I had learned how to navigate this life I’d been given.

I began to develop a tolerance and hated the sickness that I started to feel when the heroin wore off. I hated the thoughts that crept into my mind when I wasn’t high. I began begging the men for extra money, promising to do more than they asked for. I couldn’t believe the things I was willing to do for a little extra money. I knew most of them by their first names now as they had become regulars. In fact, I started pulling tricks on the side in order to keep some of the money I was making instead of having to give it all to my mom’s boyfriend. When he found out he put me in the hospital and told me I couldn’t come back. My mom cried but stood by his side as he did this.

My mom died from an overdose on heroin three weeks after my 17 birthday. For the first time in my life, I felt totally alone. I didn’t hate her for what happened. I know she was strung out and trying to survive much like I was. She would occasionally sneak money or clothes to me when she’d go out. I stayed at the Dream Center Shelter and had nothing except what she could smuggle to me. I was still turning tricks and fighting to not be dope sick but without the steady feed from my mom’s boyfriend, I struggled to find dope. I bounced in and out of detox several times in an attempt to get clean but I always went right back.

One of the girls at the center told me I could make more money dancing. She said I could make upwards of five hundred dollars a night if I was any good. I jumped at the chance make some money and applied for a dancing job at a local strip club. I was hired on the spot. The manager said he saw a lot of potential in me and asked if I was willing to work hard and work long hours. I told him I was.

Little did I know what a toll those long hours would take on me. I did make good money but was constantly exhausted. I had all the dope I wanted, men throwing themselves at me, and new friends but felt like I couldn’t keep up with my new lifestyle demands. It was around this time I discovered cocaine. It gave me the energy I needed to push harder.

Soon I was headlining the club I worked at and the money really started coming in, along with more opportunities, more dancing, higher-class tricks, and my own stuff. I kind of felt like I was on top of the world and had put all that bad stuff behind me. That’s about the time I got arrested for prostitution and possession of a controlled substance.

For a period of time, I was forced to get sober. They obviously wouldn’t let me have heroin in jail. I hated being sober because when I was sober I would start to remember all the crap I wanted to forget. The fear and anger and self-hatred would come back. So, on top of being severely sick from withdrawal, I was an emotional wreck. All I thought about that week I dried out in jail was how badly I just wanted to die.