Jhea: I Am Strong

When I was 11, I ran away from home, due to years of abuse in my household.  I initially stayed with my aunt but after a fight with my mother, I never saw her again.

I later went to my father’s house. He helped me with food and shelter even though he was drinking and gambling at that time.  In grade 5, I ran away from my father’s house because we had a fight.  I stayed with a friend whose family made me their house helper. I didn’t finish elementary school and started using marijuana and drinking.

When I was 16, a friend of a friend told me there was someone looking for a house helper. 

My friend and I got the job together. When we reached the house, she introduced me to my perpetrator. After a couple of hours, she left me alone. My perpetrator showed me around  the house and then she locked me in a room. I was crying hard. I kept on crying and screaming, saying please open the door. I stayed there one day with no food.

The next day she introduced me to a man. I fought her. The time came when she slapped me and the man punched me in the stomach. I fell on the floor.

I didn’t get paid in the first month. In the second month, the customers gave me money and I hid it. Usually $3-4. The other money was given to my perpetrator. On my body there were many wounds. When there was contact with a customer, I cut myself.

I stayed there two years because of fear. My perpetrator threatened me and said she would do something to my family if I leave or say something to the police. One day I told her I would go to the mall, but I escaped.  My friend invited me to go to a beach outing with them. The beach outing was an outreach of an organization that wanted to help me in my situation.

I was referred to a recovery center where I stayed for almost two years.  I was able to heal and forgive my mother.

I heard about SGI from one of my co-residents. I asked my social worker to refer me to SGI.

I was thinking it is a safe place to stay and it is near to my school.  I’m here in SGI because I want to live independently and to grow more. Basically, I want to finish my studies. Now I’m a college student. I chose social work because I want to prove to myself that I can help other people, especially children. It is important because I think I will have achieved my goal if I help others to change themselves from being an addict to being a successful person.

I am strong. I believe I can be a professional someday with the help of SGI and God and myself. 

The stories are real, but the names of the residents have been changed to protect their identities.

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