Victoria’s Story – Name changed for privacy
“I had a warrant for my arrest from breaking into that place when I was 11, so by the time I was 13, I had to go back to Glendale. By this time my rebellion is progressed. It was just I mean there was always good. I mean that I wanted to do good. I wanted structure. I wanted something nice. I wanted things to look forward to and I wanted someone to love me. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be in a family who can care for me and who can provide for me and show me that they’ll be there and that they were reliable.
I’ve always had issues, with a truancy officer or doing everything I wanted to do or taking off when I felt like it or smoking pot if I wanted to go smoke pot or smoking cigarettes when I felt like it.
So I didn’t understand that the choices that I made as a teenager, they affected me when I became an adult.
My father passed away when I was three years old so ever since that point in time, my life was kind of like a spiral. We moved around in various places because she was in an abusive relationship. He was very abusive. So we always had to move around. When I came to be 11 years old, we moved to Mesa and my mom was a heroin addict and I didn’t know what heroin was at the time. But I just know I’d come home and all our spoons were bent. We didn’t really have much food inside the house. I didn’t have any clean clothes to wear. So I would kind of wash my clothes in a bucket and I was 11.
I would beg my mom to enroll me in school. I wasn’t attending school. I broke into a house and I was living there with my friends… not to be rebellious… but only because we were poor, we didn’t have much and I was hungry. We didn’t have much food. So we went in there. I stole peanut butter and things to eat. My friend stole a vacuum cleaner, shoes, we got clothes and it was basically providing for ourselves.
Sometimes I’d go to the hospital to get suckers and that’s what I would eat. Sometimes I was hungry.
Out of my friends, I didn’t have anything or they would go to the store and maybe steal stuff or maybe their moms would give them a little bit of money so they can have something to eat.
I wasn’t used to living somewhere for more than a year ever since I was little – always back and forth, from place to place. We never lived anywhere for more than a year. So there’s a lot of gap between school – different places, different people all the time.
But I didn’t realize that I was acting differently. I didn’t realize that I became a different person. I didn’t realize what my actions were doing. I just kind of decided to use meth. I got kind of stuck on it pretty bad. I just spiraled downhill. I had a new boyfriend who used it also.
I ended up getting kidnapped and exploited by a human trafficker. When I got kidnapped we were locked into a hotel and I was kind of high, so I didn’t even care. But my boyfriend at the time, he got punched by the human trafficker. We weren’t threatened. They stole some more stuff and I was just like, I didn’t care. I mean I was like, God, if you’re real and you’re here, I was like just send me my dad to at least guide me or help me, or something. Do something.
And I know He did because before that prayer – before I told Him that – I ended up going to PFA with my aunt and we watched the Christmas play. There was a prayer that said if you haven’t given your life to Christ at the end if you want to… And I was like, Hey, I’m not sure if I really believe in God but I had enough respect that I was gonna bow my head and I was gonna pray when they prayed. Because if there was a higher power, I’m gonna respect that and I took it very seriously. I didn’t realize that that’s when God saved me. And I prayed that prayer at the PFA play for Christmas.
Then I thought I was pregnant so I’m like, okay, well what am I gonna do? I ended up trying to go back to school. That didn’t work out because I was pregnant so I decided to call Sofia’s house, which is within the Phoenix Dream Center. So obviously God wasn’t done with me and He heard my prayer.
The staff at Hope Wing helped me with my education here at the Phoenix Dream Center. They have a GED class downstairs that I can take. So I’m going to school and I’m happy to learn and then they’ll help me try to get housing after I take parenting classes. They teach me how to be a mother because I don’t know how – that’s my first child. I don’t know what to do. They pray with me. They encourage me, so they’ll help me get housing, help me find a job and things that I need to do to learn how to live a life because I don’t know how to live. I’ve never known how to live life. I didn’t know how to go to school. I didn’t know how to have to be structured. I didn’t know how important it was to have God in my life. And now I’m 20 years old and I’m learning.
I need more and I need more time to heal. And one of the things that I need to learn more is that the old me is gone. When I was baptized, when I came to Christ, that’s the new me. I am victorious. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I will accomplish what needs to be done with God’s help. I’m not that weak person. Before I looked in the mirror and I couldn’t even recognize myself sometimes. I’m like, What are you doing? There’ve been times when I would look in the mirror and I couldn’t even look at myself – I was disgusted. But now I can look at myself in the mirror and if I feel bad about myself I’ll say, No, that’s the old me. That’s the old person saying that you’re not good enough or feel insecure or feel like this and have a certain emotion. But the other person looking back is saying, No, you’re beautiful. You’re wanted. You’re loved because Christ loves me. I’m a work in progress.
I’m happy that I’m at the point that I am right now in my life.
One step at a time with God. Just one step at a time.”
At the Phoenix Dream Center we walk alongside women like Victoria and help them along their recovery and healing journey.
Together we’re not just fighting to end human trafficking, but we are enabling survivors to HEAL, DREAM, and THRIVE!