I was born to two loving but very broken parents. They tried to work things out, but by the time I was six years old, my mother entered her next serious relationship, and the man she started dating severely sexually abused me starting at age six. By fifth grade, I was severely depressed, anxious, and suicidal.

One night after 11 long years of almost nightly abuse, I decided to get help. The news of the abuse caused a big drift between my mother and I, as she did not believe the truth that took years for me to speak about. I was deeply hurt and fell into an even deeper depression. By age 18, I was abuse-free but now suffered the emotional effects of the abuse. I had terrible sleep paralysis, struggled with PTSD, and was constantly filled with raging anxiety.

I went to college full time, worked full time, and spent many years volunteering at my church. I did all this in an attempt to fool myself and my family into thinking I was okay. Then at age 19 I was raped by a church friend. That led to a new level of despair in my life. I felt dirty and worthless. I was angry I had fallen victim to another man. I was angry that God didn’t protect me again. I was angry that I ended up pregnant. I was lost, confused, and hurting. Not feeling like I could go to anyone, I chose to have an abortion. And that’s when I completely lost my identity.

At this point, my life was too much to bear. I was barely sleeping, severely depressed, and painfully lonely.  I was drowning in regret and mental health issues, so I decided to end my life. A month after recovering from my suicide attempt, a friend told me about Mercy. So, I applied and was accepted. While waiting to enter the home, I went to counseling to work on my relationship with my mother, and for the first time in a long time we grew closer.

Then I walked through the doors of my first Mercy home. I was excited and hopeful for my future. In the first week alone, my walls had fallen down, and I felt God in a way I had never felt before. Almost two weeks after entering Mercy, I got a call from my brother that our mother had suddenly passed away. I went home to bury my mother and two weeks later went back to Mercy. I didn’t trust God and wouldn’t dare let anyone close to my fragile heart. After ten months of trying to bring my walls down, I was sent home from Mercy to grieve the loss of my mother.

When I left Mercy, I had my 11-year-old sister waiting for me to get custody of her. I knew I had to get my life together before getting her, so after a season of grieving with my family, I reapplied to Mercy and was accepted again. One month before entering the home, I lost a dear friend of mine. I was in a pit of grief with no understanding of how to get out. I didn’t think God cared about me but still I pursued him and reentered Mercy.

When I walked through the doors of the home, I was met with compassion, unconditional love, and lots of joy. Although healing didn’t come in the way that I thought it would, I am thankful for that. Healing came in learning to rely on and trust people. It came through streams of tears as I grieved the tremendous amount of loss in my life. It came through countless moments of laughter and joy. It came through learning I have a voice and using it to advocate for myself and others. It came through the understanding of a simple word: hope. To hope is to trust and to rely on God to come through in whatever I am experiencing. I trust that when life gets hard, He’s right there with me guiding me and loving me. Where my life was once marked by trauma, tragedy, and loss, it’s now defined by hope, faith, and love.

After Mercy, I will be going back home and starting a new chapter of life with my three siblings and our amazing support system. I will be going to school to become a Labor and Delivery nurse and will also minor in Psychology. Most importantly, I will be pursuing the Lord in all that I do, finding new ways to build my relationship with Him so that I can do what He’s called me to do and help build His Kingdom.

To all the donors, thank you so much for investing in my life. Without you, Mercy wouldn’t have the means needed to help me gain the freedom I needed. You are a critical part of the whole program. May God bless you!