As a former victim of human sexual trafficking, there were moments when I didn’t believe I would survive. I was “purchased” more times than I can count by the highest bidder for that day.

I was at the lowest place in my life and getting addicted to drugs seemed inevitable.

After being identified by the Department of Children and Families as a child who had been sexually and commercially trafficked, I was immediately put into traditional foster care.

Having never known what being a part of a family felt like, and feeling as though I’d never been truly loved at any time in my life, I did what past trauma taught me to do – I ran away. I spent the first few months trying to run back to the life that had been my reality for so long.

Ironically, getting arrested and placed on probation by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and put in the care of Jewish Family & Community Services was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was forced to face all of the disappointment, neglect, rejection, abuse, and trauma that I experienced throughout my life. And it brought healing that transformed my life completely.

I entered and successfully completed a program for sexually exploited children. Through my therapy sessions with Dupont Counseling Group, and working with my JFCS case manager I eventually realized that my rights had been violated. But it was my responsibility to change my narrative from traumatic to triumphant.

At this point in my life I consider myself to be very fortunate. I didn’t know how many more birthdays I would live to see but I will soon be celebrating my 18th birthday with my amazing foster family. Every day they show me what it means to be a part of a loving family and for the first time in my life I am looking forward to my future. I want to help people the way JFCS helped me. I want people to know that people like me, who have a troubled history, are neither broken nor defeated. I want everyone to know that healing creates wonderful new beginnings. And when you least expect it, you will meet people who are willing to help you reclaim your life and thrive on your journey.