Stories of Hope
I started drawing and painting in earnest when I was recovering from spinal surgery. I often portray colorful, supernatural figures that pulse with life energy and emotion. I am a survior of prostitution and a graduate of MMP. I have served as President and I'm currently on the Board of Directors. I used to talk about my story. Now, I prefer expressing myself through painting.
I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. My mother had a history of serious mental instability and my father was a biker and career criminal. My uncle started sexually assaulting me when I was four years old. I have two brothers, the younger of which killed my father. I remember going through the white pages of the phone directory as a small child calling everyone in it with my last name. I would say to them that I had been adopted and I was looking for my real parents. “Could you possibly be my folks?
When I was 12 years old I went to live with my stepmother in Bakersfield. We hitchhiked together to Salt Lake City where my stepmother sold me to a man who owned a club and a massage parlor. I worked for him as a dancer and a masseuse until I was 18 years of age, when I stole $10,000 from my “owner” and returned to California. By now I was heavily involved in drug abuse and prostitution and the money was gone in no time.
I once again became involved sexually with my uncle and became pregnant. The child died three days after he was born of complications commonly associated with intra-familial breeding. Following the death of my child, I became even more heavily involved in drugs and prostitution and other petty crimes in California and Oregon.
Today, I struggle with deep, unresolved grief, serious mental illness, the vestiges of incest, and acute medical issues including advanced heart disease. I have been sober for two years and hope to work with animals.
While I'm just 23 years of age, I've already seen a lot of the worst part of life. Raised in foster care, I didn’t have family support or a loving circle of people around me when I found myself on my own at the age of 18. Jobs were hard to come by, and the money I made dancing in clubs and stripping seemed fast and easy. It wasn’t long until drug use and the allure of thinking that men being willing to pay me for sex made me feel special. Soon I was caught up in this life-style, and I began a decline into despair and ever-more dangerous risk taking, ultimately making me suicidal. I first heard about MMP from another woman I met while in jail. I couldn’t believe such a place as MMP existed, and when I heard I could be screened in jail for a place to go once I was let out, I begged for a chance to meet with our Case Manger. I started out lying about my past, because I didn’t think if I told the truth about how many terrible things I’d done that I would be let in. But I could tell that she knew I was lying, so I took a chance and told the truth. I feel so lucky to be given a second chance to get my life right.
I still struggle. I don't like having to do chores or share a living space, or having homework, but I think it’s good for me. I can see the women who have been here longer than me and how they’ve come to have respect for themselves. I want that too.
I have a six year old daughter, by a man who once pimped me out. After landing in jail and losing custody of my daughter, I enrolled in services as a Hayman House resident. My number one priority was getting my kid back, even though I knew I had to learn to take care of myself first, and prove I could be a proper parent for my child. The MMP staff warned me it wouldn’t be easy. I worked hard, maintaining my sobriety, finishing school, getting a job and never missing a weekend appointment to be with my daughter. MMP did its part too, helping me not only get my own life on track but also by getting me involved with parent training, family therapy, hosting my daughter for weekends, and when the time was right and I had proven myself, advocating on my behalf with the courts and my case worker, promising to stay involved in helping me create a loving and secure home for my child. It took me nearly 2 years, but I’ve got my child back, a home, a job, and a community of people I know I can turn to if I get scared or need help. I don’t know where someone like me would have found that without the Mary Magdalene Project, especially Jodi and Donna.”