by Name Withheld | April 24, 2019

How it could have happened on that particular day is a mystery. Were it any other day, I wonder what would have come of it. But it was the very day that I had been rejected by the Navy recruiting office. My dream was to leave my life behind, start anew on my own, and the Navy was going to be my ticket. But when my physical results showed that I had had hepatitis less than six months earlier, I was sent home. I was devastated.

I was walking home from the recruitment office when it happened. A car pulled up, cut me off from where I was walking and a handsome guy, clearly older than me, and wearing nice clothes, popped out and introduced himself.

“You’re beautiful,” he said. “Tell you what. Come with me, and I’ll buy you stuff you only dreamed of.” Two things were working against me at that very moment. I was vulnerable—highly susceptible to any offer that promised a better life than what I had, and I was very promiscuous. This pick-up line about me being beautiful had worked on me many times—he was speaking my language.

And so, awkward and strange as it was, I went with him. We began dating, then we moved in together, and in time I found myself deeply in love.

Things were going great. I was out of the house, and he was true to his word, treating me wonderfully and buying me nicer clothes than I had ever had before. He even promised we’d leave San Diego to go live somewhere together. That was really what I wanted most. I just really felt my life wouldn’t start until I moved away.

One day he told me that we were close to leaving, we just needed a little more money. And he had an idea of how we could get it. I was like, “Great! Let’s do it. We have to get out of here. What is your idea?”

He wanted me to go out onto the streets and sell my body. I loved him so much I actually agreed to it.

Looking back at it now, it seems unthinkable that I would not have batted that down and stormed off. But I loved him so much I actually agreed to it. Walking the streets late at night on my own was terrifying, and meeting all those men was almost more than I could bear. But I truly felt if I didn’t do what he told me to, 5-6 times a night—bringing in around $200, he would leave me, and that was inconceivable.

So night after night I sold my body to strange men. In turn, he began treating me more and more like property. He began physically and verbally abusing me as he took my money and gave me only enough to eat, got me hooked on cocaine, and even brought another girl into our relationship, about 16 or 17 years old—who he also put out on the street. Our boyfriend/girlfriend relationship devolved into the classic pimp and hooker relationship: slave master and the slave. 

Out on the road, I endured numerous beatings and threats. I had a knife pulled on me in San Francisco. In Central California, I was taken to the woods by two men in the middle of the night who threw me out the car door to die in a way that would leave no trace or evidence of a killer. I really should have died a hundred times over.

Finally, I had had it. I stood up to him and said, “I’m done. I’m not doing this anymore.”

“You can leave if you can outrun this bullet,” he replied, and pulled out a gun and pointed it at my face. 

I was just beside myself enough to give it a try. I turned and ran. On the street, a car pulled up alongside me, and the driver asked where I was running to. “My mom’s,” I said as I huffed and puffed.

“Get in. I’ll take you!”

I made it to my mom’s house, and then braced for some fallout, like a kidnap attempt.

I braced for some fallout, like a kidnap attempt. But it never came. I never heard from him again.

In no time, I returned to my old ways; a life that resembled, somewhat, the life I led before I was a prostitute. There were lots of boyfriends and promiscuity, and I got close to a lot of men. The difference this time was that I now had a secret. What I allowed myself to do out there in the middle of the night on the roads and highways of California would always remain unspoken. Shame burns brightly. The door must be shut tight. 

I met up with a girl I knew in high school, and she was a Christian. She invited me to church, and I decided to take her up on it. I remember being very impressed. It was all so positive and wonderful to see people raising their hands and giving their God glory. Even so, the only thing I took away from it was that something more was out there; other realms existed. I didn’t necessarily think it was for me, but it poked a hole in my preconceived notion of the limits of this life.

One of the guys I dated was nice enough to marry, and so we did and moved to South Carolina to live with his mother—a Christian woman.

I knew we were causing her hardship to share her home with us, so the day she asked me if I would attend church with her, I felt obligated to pay her back for her kindness. 

I walked into the AME church, which was having a revival, and was suddenly hit by the force of the experience. The gospel music, like a wall of sound, pushed me back and rewrote my previous experience, where I didn’t feel like it was for me. Well, this was for me!  

When the pastor spoke, he talked about the love of Jesus that reaches down into the places of your heart where shame resides and festers. If I would just give my life to him, he would take that shame from me. 

How could someone do this? It was mine alone because I caused it. 

But Christ’s outstretched arms told a different story. "Come unto me," He kept saying. "Try me on this."

What I did out there on those streets is not something that can come easily clean; for my kind of stain, there is no solvent. But in that moment of feeling I had nowhere else to turn, I gave my life to Jesus, and He responded by turning my dark past into a brilliant white—with his brilliant red blood. I can even talk about my past life today—the final and ultimate blow to shame’s hold. My name is not on this story but only because there are people in my life to protect. But I am free of my past. I hope that if you are keeping a secret, you’ll give Jesus a chance to take it from you. There is no secret too shameful for His forgiveness to reach.


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