Krystal – 2016 Graduate
I grew up in a dysfunctional, alcoholic home. My family went to church at various times during my early childhood. By the time I was seven, I was the only family member that still wanted to attend church. An elderly woman from the church began picking me up each week. My dad passed away when I was 10 from heart problems that were complicated by alcoholism. Around the same time, I began being sexually abused by someone my mom drank with. During that time, the man sold me to various other people. At both 12 and 14 he got me pregnant, and forcibly aborted both babies. One of the hardest parts of this was realizing that my mom knew and was even involved in the sex trafficking. She also allowed and encouraged the abortions. Child protective services were involved in my life several times, because of my mom’s alcoholism, but I never felt safe enough to tell the complete truth. I opened up a little more when I was 17. My mom denied everything, but I was taken into the state’s custody. By that time I had turned to drugs and self-harm as a way to cope. The drugs went away, because it was no longer an option, but the self-harm lingered. When I aged out of foster care, I realized I needed help with the trauma of my childhood.
When I was about 18, I read the book “Mercy for Self-Harm” by Mercy’s Founder and President, Nancy Alcorn. I didn’t realize at the time that Mercy was a residential program. When I was 20, I was researching affordable Christian treatment options, and Mercy was the first thing that came up. I didn’t apply right away because I was a leader in foster care advocacy, and I didn’t want people who looked up to me to know how much I was struggling. I was working with an amazing therapist, to deal with the trauma, but I was severely struggling to hold my head up. She helped me see that I needed more than just her. I came to a place where I was in a constant state of wanting to die. I was beginning to think that even God wouldn’t care whether I lived or not. However, there was a glimpse of hope somewhere deep down, so I chose to take the step to apply.
I entered the program hating myself. But something really huge happened when I had been at Mercy for a couple of months. I was listening to “Loving God, Loving Yourself, and Loving Others” by Joyce Meyer, and she told me to hug myself. I wasn’t going to do that at first, but when I did, I felt true love for myself for the first time in my whole life. That is the moment that I realized that loving myself was possible. God used this experience and the teaching of another speaker to really confirm His love for me.
While I was at Mercy, God turned the shame of my entire life of trauma around. Words that were spoken to me and things that were done to me in my past have no power over me. God is greater than those things. He has shown me that He was there during those times, and He sees me as His precious daughter. Nothing I do, or nothing anyone has done or does to me, can change that!
After graduation from Mercy, I am going to return to school to finish my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. This summer I plan to volunteer at a church camp for foster kids. In the future, I want to get my Master’s Degree in Social Work. I want to work as a therapist for children and young women or work in the child welfare system.
I have no words to describe how much Mercy has meant to me. I never would have been able to come if I had to pay. I have been set on an amazing path. I am glad God put Nancy on her path all those years ago. I couldn’t imagine this program not existing now!