A Heartfelt Letter From a Resident
To everyone who gives to Shepherd’s Gate,
When I first came to Shepherd’s Gate, I was desperate to find a way to change my life.
I can’t even think of a time before I came here when I had hope that my life could be happy. I felt like I’d always be struggling to survive. And I knew I had to do something to make life better for my girls. From the time they were born, it’s all I ever wanted for
Growing up, my mom drank all of the time. She had a job, but I’d get sent to my grandmother’s for weeks when my mom’s drinking got too bad. I was left alone or with strangers a lot. The first time I was molested was when I was 3 years old.
When I was 12, my mom gave me to my dad who I had never met before. I didn’t want to go with him but Mom said she had raised me for the past 12 years, and it was his turn to put in some time. He took me on a trip to visit his side of the family, and while we were gone, he molested me and then raped me a few days later.
He left and I ran away and never saw him again. But, I blamed myself for all of it.
After I came home, I went downhill fast. I started using drugs, ran away from home, and was prostituted for the first time when I was 12. I tried to just detach and survive, but really, I was just sad and depressed.
Most of the next 20 years I spent in and out of drug addiction, in and out of selling myself for food or some place to live, in and out of programs, or in and out of jail. I stayed in a motel when I could, but often lived on the street. Everything became about surviving.
I met a man and got married, thinking it would be my way out. But when he wouldn’t stop hitting me I ran away with my 2 girls. I was so afraid he would hurt them too.
The worst moment was when my girls were taken away. I knew something had to change. Thank God I came here. There’s such an unbelievable love that Shepherd’s Gate has given me and the other women and children here.
Today I am so grateful to be in a stable place with my girls. I know God is with me and that I’m in His safety net. God has shown me that I can have strong boundaries and stick to them. I can be safe and keep my children safe.
I love the verse Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” I never really knew about the Bible, and I’m learning it here.
With God’s help, I have hope and know my girls can have a bright future – better than I had. I’ll keep growing closer to the Lord and obeying what He tells me. I know that we’ll be okay. Thank you for giving me this opportunity, for helping me change my life! I know I’ll never be the same.
*Name changed to protect privacy.