Please Note: The survivors featured on this page have gone through significant healing and have been restored to wholeness through Jesus, Mending the Soul, years of counseling and therapy, while working with a trauma-informed trained mentor. No longer held captive to shame or fear, they now live a healthy and successful life. In addition, they are also now giving back by publicly sharing their story of how God is using their painful past to offer hope to other survivors and to encourage the body of Christ to become properly trained and equipped to support survivors through their healing journey. We thank them for bravely sharing their story and are so excited for their future! We hope their stories will inspire you to get properly educated and trained, then get involved to make a difference!
Trained Mentors Making a Difference!
Andrea holds a special place in our hearts because her rescue was the very reason Darlene started a mentoring ministry in 2013. We're very proud of how far Andrea has come - full circle in her healing journey and is now an advocate and speaker for anti-trafficking efforts.
Andrea’s story is one that is unique because she grew up in a Christian home and is a college graduate, but her story is typical of how girls looking for love and attention get lured into the life of sex-trafficking. After finally leaving that lifestyle, she was connected to trained Christian mentors who have walked alongside helping her through an incredible healing journey. She has taken her healing process serious by going through multiple healing curriculums, trauma informed counseling, and neurofeedback therapy, which she attributes to the relief from anxiety and PTSD. She says having a mentor has played a critical role in her healing journey.
Andrea currently spends her days working as an Associate for a financial company. Her evenings are spent with friends, taco nights with family, and her beloved dog Patches. Her deep passion is for spreading awareness of sex trafficking with the hope that no one will ever have to endure what she has as a survivor.
Some of Andrea’s anti-trafficking efforts include being a part of the U.S.Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign and an active member of the Northwest Family Services’ Sex Trafficking Advisory Committee. She’s been featured in Educational Campaigns, Public Service Announcements, and several local media broadcasts. Andrea has also been a keynote speaker for several organizations including the NW Baptist Women’s Convention and several churches. You can find her full story in the March/April issue of the NW Baptist Witness magazine, visit: https://www.gonbw.org/archive-1/march-2017/joining-the-fight-to-end-sex-trafficking/
She has now re-committed her life to Jesus and helping others understand sexual exploitation. God is using her story of pain and redemption to give hope to others. Andrea has renewed her commitment to Jesus when she was baptized in August 2017.
Andrea loves to share her story of God's amazing love and redemption. If you would like more information about contacting Andrea to speak at your church or event, please contact us through our Contact page.
Looking back with an abused child’s perspective.
I was born into a dysfunctional family. My dad was a drug addict and had an affair before I was born, which led to the divorce of my parents by the time I was a year old. My mom was completely emotionally unavailable and harassed by my dad’s girlfriend. My dad’s girlfriend had a son, who sexually abused me when I was 3 years old.
After the divorce, my mom got pregnant with my brother which made things worse with my dad’s girlfriend. When the violence and attacks against my mom escalated with this other woman, my mom moved us to Hawaii. I was 5 years old and my brother was a baby. We stayed with a friend for a few days, but because I was so angry and emotionally damaged, we were asked to leave after I kicked holes in the walls. We had nowhere to go. I remember the pain I felt, very vividly, while being left stranded on the side of the road as a 5 year old little girl who just wanted her daddy and a normal life. Even though I had no idea what a “normal” life was.
Some people took us into their home but we ended up hopping from house to house and shelter to shelter for years. Eventually my mom found a church. People told us they would pray for us and my dad will be saved. They helped my mom get a small rental home, but offered no real help for healing.
I remember never having a Christmas and wondering why all the other kids did. My mom never worked and we were very poor. Being the minority in a Hawaiian culture, I was told I was different. All through elementary school, I was beat up, spit on, and constantly told nobody would ever like me or want me.
When I was 8 years old, my dad re-entered our life and remarried my mom. He was still seeing his girlfriend, sleeping with my neighbor, my friend’s mom, doing drugs, and also began smoking marijuana with me. During this time, I was severely molested by a neighbor, an elderly man in his late 70’s. This was a very traumatizing experience that went on between ages 7-9.
When I was 9 years old, I was forced to watch pornography. My dad’s friend, a 34 year old, began molesting me and giving me marijuana. My mom was in a constant state of denial and life became increasingly difficult to bear. At age 11, a 19 year old neighbor sexually assaulted me. When my parents found out, they sent me to a rehab center in CA. This was a place for people who tried to commit suicide or had severe schizophrenia, including my roommate, who tried to kill herself by cutting every day. This was not a place for an 11 year old severely abused child. I was there for 4 months and met a boy, then went back to Hawaii.
From Hawaii, I began calling the boy I had met at the rehab center. He lived in a group home, but after a while, he moved, so I ended up talking to the group home leader, Lenny. One day, as I was telling Lenny how much I hated my life, he offered to send me a plane ticket back to California. I had him send the ticket to the next door neighbor’s house and I snuck it out of the mailbox a few days later. I walked to the airport, got on the plane, and landed in California. Lenny picked me up and took me to a motel. He didn’t touch me, but I remember being curled up in a fetal position in the corner of the room all night. When the police knocked on the door looking for me in the morning, I jumped out the window and ran.
I was on the streets from age 11-12. I stole and did what I had to do in order to eat and survive. I went from home to home and was eventually put in a foster home. By this time, my new ‘family” became a local gang. At 12 years old, I was witnessing people being beat up and killed in drive-by shootings. The foster home was co-ed so I was sexually abused by every guy in the home. I was given crystal meth and used over and over. I was transferred to more than 7 foster homes and ended up with a severe eating disorder.
My parents moved to Washington when I was 14 years old, so I went with them. The first day I was there, I was picked up by the leader of a violent gang, also a major drug dealer. The cycle of abuse continued with them. I was repeatedly gang raped and beaten, usually in front of the entire group. It was a very dangerous and scary gang. The only person who tried to help me once ended up getting his jaw smashed in for trying to help. After never-ending beatings and several threats to kill me with a loaded gun, I ran away. The gang members robbed and ransacked my parent’s house while looking for me. For my safety, my parents sent me to a Christian rehabilitation center in the middle of nowhere in Texas, called the Holy Highway.
I didn’t speak for the first 6 months at the Holy Highway. The severe PTSD, abuse, trauma, brutal rapes, and other horrific things I had witnessed and been exposed to caused my brain to freeze. I was numb and felt damaged beyond repair from the 52 people who violated and abused me before my 15th birthday. I couldn’t even cry. I was there for nearly 3 years from age 15-17. While there, I came to know Jesus and my first encounter with Him was amazing. I received some healing, but needed way more than they had to offer.
I left the Holy Highway at age 17 and began attending church. I met a man at church and thought I finally had someone to love me and was going to have a family. We married when I was 19 years old, but one week after the wedding, he revealed that he had cheated on me. I tried to make the marriage work for 3 years, but he continued to cheat and I continued to spiral downhill. I had began a successful career, but chose to leave it and everything we had. I left with only my car and clothes.
Looking back, I realize I was putting my faith in a person instead of God. I did not have the healing, understanding, or tools to enter into a healthy relationship. If my church had a ministry for survivors and trained mentors to walk alongside me through a thorough healing process until I was stable, I believe I would have ended up on a very different path.
Once back in Seattle, alone, depressed, with no help or healing, I went back to what I knew and felt all I was worth: Survival by sex and drugs. Sexual exploitation is not only for money. It’s defined as: Any sexual act traded for profit, that happens to a person under the age of 18, with or without their consent, OR, any sexual act traded for profit that happens to a person over the age of 18 through force, fraud, or coercion.
This time, the people who “took me in” were very wealthy. They provided a roof over my head, food, and unlimited drugs in exchange for sex and making me feel wanted and “special.” They controlled me with drugs and I was used and abused by countless people for their gain and my survival.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I decided to make a change for good. I went back to church and began building my relationship with God again. I met my current husband when my daughter was a year old. It’s been 12 years and together we’ve raised 3 beautiful daughters and a son. I can’t believe God picked me to be their mom!
I went to counseling for years, which was helpful to work through some of my issues, but it didn’t help me find true healing or understand how significant my childhood abuse and lack of adequate care led me to being a very vulnerable victim, used and abused over and over. I started to forgive and wanted God to use my story for His glory.
I now run a highly successful business and have had the opportunity to mentor other young ladies struggling with the same hurts and pain. This year, wanting to give back and get more involved, I went through the Mentor Support Collaborative Training to become a mentor to other survivors. Mending the Soul was the first step of the training, which brought healing and understanding to my life that I have not been able to get before. I think if there had been Mending the Soul or an outreach program like a Survivor Support Ministry, I would have had a faster recovery and the support needed to make better choices and avoid so much pain and heartache.
Mending the Soul and the Mentor Support Collaborative Training has changed my life! I was able to look at it through a mom’s, daughter’s, and survivor’s eye and learn about past and current relationships, understanding the difference between healthy and toxic ones. During the last 9 months, I dug deep so I could be healthy and prepared to help other women. What tremendous healing God is bringing to me!
Every church needs this kind of training! There are many women sitting in church that could benefit from this. So many women have been abused and could start healing, but without Jesus, love, and guidance, the cycle will continue and the pain will not go away. My scars will never go away, but they remind me that I serve a powerful God who can do amazing things and move mountains. I am so humbled He picked me to have this story and allowed me to be used to help others through their healing journey. I am so thankful and grateful to be part of such a life changing movement because God puts us on earth to serve others--to use our story to give back...it’s like a two for one deal...Mend our souls so we can go help mend others!
More stories coming soon!