Stories of hope from the participants in SafeHope Home Programs and Housing
At the age of 14 I became homeless, and soon after I began being trafficked. I was moved from motel to motel, and sold to men who saw me as nothing more than an object to be rented out. I was addicted to heroin and crack and there were days where I hoped the drugs would kill me, or that someone would hurt me just enough that I would die. I had no hope, and death in all honesty was my best option. Living in that life became so normal; the violence, shootings, and death of people close to me was all too common. I had no idea how to live and had no hope that my life would ever be different.
When I applied to come to SafeHope Home, I was reluctant. I didn’t think the program would work for me, and I didn’t like the idea of living somewhere that I thought would feel like a shelter all over again. When I moved here, living with others was a struggle at first. I didn’t like being touched and I was easily startled. As I got to know everyone though, it started being different. I formed real relationships with the girls and staff in the house. Everywhere else I lived I was just another number, and a statistic to be documented on. That wasn’t the case here. The staff treated me like I was a person and showed me that I was worth loving. This is the first place I’ve ever lived where I truly felt safe. The house is filled with uncontrollable laughter, and love. I’ve learned how to have fun and live a life that I’m proud of.
Today, I’m now just over a year clean and sober. I’ve had a lot of challenges while being here, but I’ve overcome so much. I worked through a lot of my trauma and have learned how to manage my triggers. I have a lot of hope for my life. I start school in September which I never thought would be possible for someone like me. I got my own apartment, that I can call home, where I feel safe and am close to my family and friends. Coming to SafeHope Home absolutely changed my life, and I am forever grateful for the experiences I’ve had here.
“A YEAR SHIFTED MY ENTIRE OUTLOOK”
I was first trafficked at the age of 17, and from there I was re-victimized by four more men, 2 of whom beat me and abused me psychologically and emotionally over a period of four years. My childhood had been really unstable and then my teen years were even more unstable. I had become acquired to dysfunction in all of its myriad forms. I started using drugs at 14 or 15 years old, but the spiral of addiction didn’t hit me until I started in the sex industry. From there on out I continued to spiral, continuously finding myself in even more dangerous situations than the last, including being raped at gunpoint, and being choked until my nose poured blood and I thought I was going to die. The effects on my physical and mental health were so dramatic that I sought help for years while going through all of this, but I continued to reach dead end after dead end.
The search for a place that could help me was tiresome and long. I landed in shelters, transitional housing programs, and just places that were not equipped to handle the trauma I’d endured, let alone help me to grow as a person. I was giving up and ready to fly out to BC because I thought that was the closest recovery program to me. But while I was on the waiting list for the home in BC, we found SafeHope Home. I was glad to be closer to home, but I had my guard up regardless. When I first came to the program, I was so angry. I had preconceived notions that this program was going to be like all the other shelters and homes that I had stayed in over the years. Frequently I would storm out of the program or out of the house, angry, exploding, saying I was done and I wanted to leave.
But I stayed. And I’m so grateful that I did. I’m now doing university online, and looking forward to getting a place in Toronto. I’m in kickboxing and aerial hoops/silks classes, and I’m always laughing now. I have friends from the house that have turned into more of a family. We crack jokes all day long, it’s the best sisterhood I’ve ever known. The girls empower each other and lift one another up. On top of all that, I’m working on my trauma with a therapist I trust and actually like as a person. That’s a mind-blower, because I’ve gone through 30 odd therapists and didn’t like a single one of them until I came to SafeHope Home. I used to think about the future and be terrified and depressed, now I look forward with excitement and hope. It’s crazy how a year shifted my entire outlook, and how I can look back and see the growth in myself, and now look towards the future and see the potential with hope! It’s amazing. I’m forever grateful for what SafeHope Home has done for me. I was lucky enough to be one of the women chosen for the spots in this home, and if I hadn’t ended up here, I don’t know where I would be! But I know where I’m going from here! And its gonna be great! 🙂