Stories of Survival
These are the girls that keep us going. StreetLightUSA is saving lives!
Pauline has been betrayed by someone who should have been protecting her. Instead he molested her. It is believed that 80-90 percent of girls who are trafficked have been sexually molested earlier in their lives. We take girls who have been molested because they are among those at highest risk for trafficking.
When Pauline came to StreetLightUSA she was traumatized. The betrayal she felt was so profound that she lashed out at everyone. She didn’t get along with the other girls or with the staff. She was doing poorly in school and would not cooperate with those trying to help her.
Now, after countless meetings with school officials, her case manager, and counselors, she has settled into a satisfying routine. She has developed healthy relationships with staff and residents and is now passing all of her classes. She is also undergoing therapy to process the abuse that was done to her.
Danielle has lived a hard life. For her fourteen years she has had to take care of herself, her siblings, and even her parents. Her parents are drug addicts and Danielle is the only responsible member of the family.
Her parents were turned in because they could not care for Danielle and her siblings because they spent all of their money on drugs. She came to StreetLightUSA with problems we see often. She was falling behind in school because she was absent a lot due due to her home life. She was withdrawn as most girls are when they come to us.
At StreetLightUSA she has received counseling and was given a mentor to encourage her and show her that her life did not have to be like it has been until now. She also participated in therapeutic activities that give her an outlet to vent her frustrations.
Danielle has made significant improvements with school attendance and is even signing up for summer school. She actively participates in the program, and is a positive role model to her peers. She is dedicated to becoming a successful young adult. She is working towards getting a job and earning her high school diploma. StreetLightUSA has provided a level of stability and provision for her to finally be able to focus on herself.
Toni is a victim of sexual abuse. When she first came to StreetLightUSA she was having difficulty in school, lashing out at staff and other residents, and she had not been provided any counseling or other services. She was always in trouble at school, which put her at risk for failing.
StreetLightUSA provided Toni with the services she needs to succeed. She is currently getting individual and family therapy which is helping her deal with her trauma. She is now more emotionally stable and she passed all her classes this semester.
Toni is now very close to the other girls at StreetLightUSA and also with the Staff.
I grew up in a loving, Christian family for the first eight years of my life. Then my parents divorced. My dad went to work in another state and I stayed with my mom. She became a raging alcoholic and later started doing drugs.
After a couple of years I started drinking, smoking, and doing drugs. I partied right along with my mother. She didn’t care that I was becoming an addict like her.
At one drop house, I was kidnapped. I was locked in a basement for a year, used as a sex slave. I don’t know how I made it through that.
After I was saved, I decided to change my life. I am at StreetLightUSA now, getting my high school diploma. I am going to college and I already have a job and an apartment ready for when I leave here.
Marcia was betrayed
It all started when I was 12 years old. My mom had to work so my stepdad took me to a doctor’s appointment. I thought everything was fine. I was daydreaming and listening to my music when I realized we had stopped behind some old crumbling down buildings.
My stepdad took away my MP3 player and threw it out the window. He started talking to me but I couldn’t believe what he was saying. He said all kinds of dirty things he said he wanted to do to me. He then started touching me all over. I tried to fight him off and get away but he was so strong.
He raped me that day. And he kept on doing it. I told my mother but she didn’t believe me. I wondered why me? I’m a good girl–or so I thought I was. I was worried about my little sisters. I didn’t want him to do it to them too.
Finally I called the police and they took me and my sisters away to a safe place. Now I am at StreetLightUSA and they are helping me get my life back together. Being here with other girls helps me understand that I’m not the only one this has happened to and that I am not a bad girl.
Last year my ex-boyfriend told me that he had a job for me. I was so excited!! I asked him what the job was and he said I was going to make money for him. When he told me I was going to have to sell my body- I told him NO!
He said if I don’t do it he will kill me and my family. This guy was CRAZY and I believed he would kill me and my family! I was so scared- I did not know what to do… I hide from him. I have nightmares about it all the time and I have trouble concentrating at school because of the deep fear I feel in my heart.
He tries to contact me. I am still so very scared that he will find me and hurt me or hurt my family.
With StreetLightUSA’s help Judy has found the the strength to face her fears and know that she doesn’t need to be afraid anymore. Many of our girls are scared that their pimps or abusers will find them. This is why we have a state of the art security system and never reveal our location.
StreetLightUSA said goodbye to a girl named Jasmine last week. She mentioned she was sad to go because she had made a lot of friends here. Often girls will find comfort and open themselves to healing when they are with others in similar situations. Jasmine is moving on to a foster home and hopes she’ll make new friends. She said being at StreetLightUSA has taught her how strong she is.
“There are a lot of us with a dark past hoping for a better future,” she said. Jasmine hopes to be a special education teacher.
Many times StreetLightUSA cares for girls who are in temporary placement. When these girls are stabilized and learn to cope with their trauma, they often move to a lower level of care like a foster home.
Linda is in the hospital after being shot by her pimp eight times. She will never walk again.
Girls like Linda fall through the cracks. They are exploited, beaten, tortured, branded, and have their spirits broken. They are never saved. They don’t even try to escape because they are hopeless. They’ve accepted their fate.
Only about one percent of victims ever get the help that they need. StreetLightUSA is working to help more girls. This summer we will begin remodeling our cottages to add another two beds to each. That will mean getting 12 more girls off the streets and into a safe environment.
Jennifer is 14. When she was 12, her father put her in a room with six men. They raped her over and over and over. She was betrayed by the person who should have protected her the most. Now she is like a lost soul who doesn’t know where to belong. She says God sometimes makes mistakes because he made her.
In a recent activity she was asked to write words to describe herself. She wrote monster and ugly. She has also written that she feels alone and just wants someone to love her. Her words are beyond heartbreaking and it is more than apparent she is not only lost, but deeply hurting.
Jennifer has been through extensive therapy and has a personal plan of care that will get her the services she needs to overcome her trauma.
Carrie is 18 years old and has been a resident at StreetLightUSA for five months. She came from an abusive background. Carrie can remember the fights between her mom and dad. When they started drinking heavily they would beat the kids. The younger siblings would cry because they were hungry and nobody looked after them.
Carrie was tired of the abuse. She took her siblings to school with her. They called the Dept. of Child Safety. Carrie had only one request–to keep as many of them together as possible. Carrie was very thankful that StreetLightUSA had two beds open because that would mean that she and her 14 year old sister could be together.
Carrie has decided to make the best out of her situation. She just turned 18 and is very excited and happy about her life. She gets to have visits from her siblings on Sundays. She will graduate from high school in May and wants to help parent her younger siblings.
Carrie is grateful that StreetLightUSA has given her a new direction to take her life. She says she is glad to have a place to stay, food to eat, and clothes to wear.
Jackie is 16 years old and came to StreetLightUSA a month ago. She was sexually abused by a family member in Russia before being adopted by an American couple who brought her to Arizona. She is at StreetLightUSA because she has no place to go. She lost her father to cancer six months ago and now her mother has just been moved to hospice; she is also suffering from cancer.
Update on Jackie
Last week we told you about Jackie. Her mother has passed away. Please keep her in your prayers, as now she is left without any family. Pray that she can endure and learn to be a strong, independent woman
Monica is 13. She came to StreetLightUSA for suffering sexual trauma at the hands of her older brother. He had been sexually abusing her from a very young age, but her mother refuses to believe it. Monica comes to us feeling guilt and shame. She has experienced an immense trauma, and feels that she is to blame.
Our hope is that through our services here at StreetLightUSA, Monica will begin to realize that what she experienced, and what she was put through, does not define her as a person. Through trauma counseling and other therapeutic activities, she will soon slowly begin the healing process. She is already beginning to come into her own and open up with those who have experienced similar trauma. She is also getting a fresh start at a new school.
Maggie came to StreetLightUSA last week. She is 14. Her mother has been trafficking her. Her mother’s boyfriend has raped her twice. Her mother knows about the rapes but doesn’t care. Instead of providing a love, guidance, and an example for Maggie, her mother has betrayed her.
Maggie comes to us broken and hopeless. She does not know the meaning of the words love or family. We get girls like Maggie every day. Our hope is that through prayer, the 24 hour care, counseling, therapeutic activities, and other services provided at StreetLightUSA she will be able to trust, love, and begin to heal.
Many times just being in an environment with other girls that have suffered the same thing is enough to get girls to open up and allow us to help them. This is how the miracle of rebirth begins.
She’s Only 11
Jenny lost her mother at a very young age. She went to live with her grandfather. When she was old enough to go to school she told her teacher that she was being molested. She was placed under the guardianship of Child Protective Services at the age of six. Jenny lived in several group homes but the fit wasn’t right. When she came to StreetLightUSA everything changed for her.
After several interviews with counselors, Jenny shared that in another group home, a caregiver would dress her in pretty dresses, put make-up on her, and send her on “dates” with men. During these “dates” Jenny had to perform sex acts.
Jenny is now fully integrated into the StreetLightUSA community. Some of the older girls have taken on a mothering role with Jenny, doing her hair every day and including her in all of their activities.
Jenny is enrolled in our on-site school, attending therapy, and beginning to understand the travesty of what happened to her.