From ages 5-7 I was sexually abused by two older girls in my neighborhood. I grew up struggling a lot with same sex attraction but I hid it very well. When I was 12 years old my sister suddenly developed a very rare disease. After this it felt like I was living by myself while my parents and sister lived at the hospital. I started struggling with abandonment issues so I was constantly searching for acceptance in romantic relationships. I developed an eating disorder and began self- harming because I was so angry and scared that I was going to lose my sister.

As I got older, anxiety and depression completely controlled me. My thoughts felt out of control, so I was constantly searching to numb myself with drugs and alcohol. When I was 18, I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant and I was terrified that the baby wouldn’t be born healthy because of the lifestyle I was living. I decided to terminate the pregnancy. That decision led me into a downward spiral of shame and self-hatred. I couldn’t go a day sober because I couldn’t stand to be in my own skin. I faced a lot of physical abuse from somebody close to me for about 4 years, but I felt like it was my responsibility to hide it. After a very traumatic event when I was 22, my eating disorder became very consuming and I developed a drug addiction that controlled my life. Feeding my addiction exposed me to a very dark and dangerous world. I was sexually assaulted many times but I did nothing about it because I thought that’s what I deserved at that point. My life was threatened countless times, as well as the life of my parents. I thought I would end up in jail or dead. I was slowly dying, and completely hopeless.

I heard about Mercy from a Francesca Battistelli music video, and my sister is a Mercy graduate. When I realized the extent of danger I had put my family in, I knew something needed to change. I also knew if I didn’t come to Mercy I would eventually die of an overdose. When I got to Mercy, I remember feeling so relieved, it felt so safe. I was desperate to encounter God.

A major turning point for me at Mercy was when God showed me that nothing I walked through in my past ever separated me from His love.

The most important thing I learned at Mercy was how to discern God’s voice. He walked me through the process of forgiving myself. He showed me that not only am I forgiven by Him but I’ve been chosen by Him. I get to receive His peace and His joy; I get to walk with the authority of His name.

To the donors and Mercy staff, there are no words to describe my gratitude. I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for you. Thank you.