At sixteen I got pregnant, and I ran to men to fill that void. I was introduced to pain medication for the first time. That gave me energy to do what I needed to do. So after two years of this long miserable divorce (it was really ugly), I went to Knoxville, TN, to celebrate. I went to a bar, and I guess that night my life really changed forever. I don’t remember a whole lot, but I left the bar that night with a man, and I don’t remember all that happened, just parts, bits and pieces. That night I was gang raped by five men. I was so ashamed and so embarrassed. I felt like it was my fault. I blamed myself, and I didn’t want to tell anyone. This man that I had left the bar with, he stopped all of that, that night. He stopped it, so when I wake up at a motel with this man, and he is telling me how he saved my life, and he tried to be the hero in this situation. The shame and guilt I will never forget. I wouldn’t talk about it. I told him not to talk about it. It didn’t take me long to realize that this guy was not going to let me go home to my three children and my parents. He was not going to let me leave. I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. It was such a terrifying feeling. I was threatened, “If you try to go home, if you try to leave me, I will kill your family.” It was terrible.
For six months we lived in a car. We lived in my car. If he went to the bathroom, I went to the bathroom. He did crack cocaine. He smoked crack, so I thought, “Okay.” That’s what I had to do, or that was the choice I made, to not think about my children and my family because I couldn’t go home. I was afraid of him. I was so afraid. I had seen him hit people for speaking to me. He backed into somebody’s car for looking at me. It was just, it was horrible.
There was a lady at a place where we slept in the parking lot. She knew I didn’t belong there. She reached out to me when she could and got a little bit of my background. Finally, one day after six months, he trusted me enough to leave me there while he went to work. She let me call my parents, and they came and got me just in the nick of time. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, he was running down the hill. I couldn’t get over the fact that I had left my children. I just blamed myself. I couldn’t get past that pain. I could see the pain in their eyes, so for years after that I numbed the pain with pain medication. It got more and more and more out of control. Eventually, I started to sell drugs. I would do anything that I had to do to get my next fix, to make sure that I could get out of bed the next day, or I could go to sleep that night. I stayed from motel to motel or drug dealer’s house to different drug dealer’s house. My oldest son had a daughter. He said, “Mom, I’m done. You cannot come around my child. You cannot come around me and my wife until you get some help.”
Sitting in a motel once again, I didn’t have anywhere to go. The money was gone. Even the people that sold me drugs, the people that I did the worst things with, they wanted nothing to do with me anymore. I remember my dad telling me, “You’ve got to go to Women at the Well.” As we were driving up that mountain, I think I cussed my parents the whole way. I didn’t want to go, but that was my only option at that time. That is the place where I truly found Jesus. When He died on the cross, He took my guilt and my shame and every sin, every disease, and everything. I am a new creation. As I sit here and talk about this stuff, you know, that person is dead. I am not her anymore. It’s like I’m talking about another person. My kids are so proud of me today. My oldest son wouldn’t speak to me at all for months, but they are very proud of the mother they have today.