I started dancing in strip clubs when I was 18, and that’s where I met a pimp. He seemed like a nice enough guy until I started working for him; that’s when I found out how violent he was. I met a trick and got hooked on ice (crystal meth), and that’s what the pimp and I fought about the most: I wanted my drugs, and he wouldn’t give them to me. We ate fast food, stayed in hotels, and had to see at least 10 tricks a day or we’d get beaten. All the money I made went to the pimp. If any of us were caught with any money, even a dollar, the pimp would have our heads. One night after I’d been with him for five months, we got into a big fight because I wanted ice, but he and his bottom bitch (second in command) were giving me spice (synthetic weed) instead so I would gain weight; I was getting too small. I told them I wanted to leave, and the bottom bitch literally beat the hell out of me. I ran out the door. I had been able to hide $100 in a cigarette case, so I got to the bus station and bought a ticket out of there. When I arrived at the bus station back home, there was a pimp waiting for me—a guy I had screwed over in the past. The pimp I’d been working for had called him and told him to find me. He snatched me from the bus station, and he and his bottom bitch held me hostage in a hotel for a week.
I told them I was a wanted person and that if I didn’t contact someone, the authorities would be looking for me, so they let me make a phone call. That was stupid of them, but I was able to reach my mom, and she got in touch with Homeland Security. I turned a trick for $80 and bolted out of the hotel door as soon as I was done. I ran to the nearest house, the person called a taxi for me, and I got to my mom’s.
I was still huffing inhalants and drinking, and I needed help. Between the Homeland Security people and the facility that my mom contacted, they found a community living program for me. I remember my mom crying when we got the email that I was accepted. It was 3:42 in the afternoon. I’ll never forget that. My parents brought me to the program that weekend, and I’ve been in it for six months. I was suspicious and so scared when I first got here. I couldn’t believe people would do this for me without expecting anything back.
I’m 20 years old, but I feel 40. My life is so different now because I have love. Real love. I don’t have to second-guess the decisions of the people who work here because they have my best interests at heart. I’m in an environment where there is no chaos, no pimps, and no hoes. My hope for the future is that someday I can give back by helping some other crazy 20 year old.