The program gave me coping skills to save me from myself and realize crucial aspects of my personality.Before coming into the program, I did not accept that I had a drug problem, and it taught me how to understand my addictive personality.
It was also through this program that I met Lisa Cunningham.
Lisa, a peer coordinator employed by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, was a survivor of prostitution and a recovering addict, so she understood exactly what I was going through and I was able to fully put my trust in her. She gave me flat irons for my hair when my hair was matted from living on the streets.
I was molested as a child, which caused me to have very low self-esteem. And then the cycle began — domestic abuse led me to drug use, which led me to prostitution to support my drug problem.
I felt like my brain had been wired wrong because of a perverted man who had sexualized my body at such a young age. I had a “looking for love in all the wrong places” problem, and had a thing for the intelligent bad boy type. No matter how much I tried to maintain the corporate lifestyle, if someone in your life is involved in violence, it will affect you eventually too. Prostitution was a way for me to support my growing addiction to crack cocaine. I went from a six-figure salary and a beautiful home with two cars in the driveway to living in abandoned buildings and alleys.
My story broadly follows a pattern that is common for victims of prostitution.
Domestic violence led me to the streets, which led me to drugs, which led me to prostitution, which, thankfully, then led me to jail.
If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. I graduated from Loyola University in 1985 with a degree in finance and have always been an overachiever.
I then worked for a large corporation, in charge of a staff of 25 people. However, like many victims of sexual exploitation, I had underlying mental health issues that I had never dealt with or spoken about.
The lifestyle takes everything from you and completely transforms you into a different person.
During those two years I tried to smoke enough crack to bust my heart, but God did not let me die. My life was saved when angels in handcuffs came for me in 2004.