At age eleven, with everything that had happened to me so far, not having that father in my life that I needed, not having the family life that I needed, I decided to run away to Memphis, Tennessee, with a seventeen-year-old boy, which I did. We lived on the street. We lived in dirty, dirty hotels. We met a lot of people at the bus station and stayed with them off and on. We knew that our time was limited because there was an APB out on us. I was only eleven, so I ended up getting picked up and put in Memphis, Tennessee, juvenile. I went into this girls’ home at age, almost turning twelve.
When I got there, they put you in what they called “the hole,” which was a very dirty basement. There were pipes running all along the ceiling and a concrete floor. I remember watching rats run behind the washer and dryers that were down there. The day I got there they took my clothes. We were completely naked. I was put into a corner. We were put into closets. This is how they got busted. We were put in a closet that had this tiny door. We had to figure out how to fit in there. Sometimes there were seven or eight girls in that closet. You had to go to the bathroom in there. If they gave you something to eat, you had to eat in there. It was totally dark. We would be in there for weeks at a time. Actually, if you look on my website you will see the news articles of the two directors that were there (were eventually after I left) arrested for kidnapping and child abuse. You can go to hopeknowsyourname.com and see the pictures of the girls’ home. You can see all of the kids that were in it. You can see the little girl that died.
I met a little girl that we just clicked. Her name was Mindy. She was thirteen years old. She said, “Christie, I just can’t take it in this place anymore.” She said, “I have taken all the medicine that was in this lady’s bag.” So I run into the house screaming to the counselors, “Please, please! She’s taken this medicine.” Well, they didn’t believe me. I watched them as they walked her up and down the hall and sticking her head in and out of a tub of cold water. They made her drink salt water to throw up. I will never forget this day. The last time they took her into the bathroom, they asked me to stay in there with her, so it was me and another girl in the bathroom. They pulled her head up and down out of the water and about the third time they took her head out of the water, they just threw her on the floor. She kind of gasped from the water, and she died right there at my feet, so that was a traumatic, traumatic thing to see at twelve.
I had always wanted to go back there as a healthy Christian adult. I got the opportunity, so we got in touch. I wrote a letter to the people who own the home and asked if it would be okay if some of the girls and I met there. They said, “Absolutely, we would love for you to come back and see the home. We will open it up to you.” There was a news crew that followed us and did a documentary. They had totally remodeled the thing except for the closet that was up in the attic. I stood at the door and I can’t tell you, my heart about stopped when I saw that closet. It was the same when they opened the door. Ronnie opened the door and the film crew went into film in there. Everything was just the same. That was the only part that they hadn’t touched was up there in that closet in the attic.
It was so good to know that a loving couple had redone the home. It was a home of happiness now, and just to go back there and see girls that had gone through what I had been through and had been locked up with, in “the hole” with, and in that closet with. It was just amazing. That was such a healing time for me.
I guess what I would leave with you is if you’re still breathing, then hope does know your name.