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I had a great childhood. I went to good schools, played sports, had lots of friends. I had a good family. But after my father died suddenly when I was 10, everything changed...

My mother tried her best, but I became very rebellious. After a heated argument when I was 15, I left the house, vowing never to return. My mom assumed we could work things out when I came home. That never happened. It would be years before she heard my voice again. I had been seduced by a sex trafficker.

At first, he seemed interested in me. I didn't realize I was telling him the information he would later use to coerce me. He said “Snitches get stiches, and their families end up in ditches”, so I had better not even think of calling the police. I wasn’t taking any chances. I did as I was told. After a while, I succumbed to a drug addiction.. Life was unbearable without them. I believed him: I was damaged goods, and no one would ever love me.

SALC found me in that ditch, in the grips of self-hatred. They reached out their hand and convinced me that if I took the first step, God would direct my path. They were right.

Today, I realize, he had a plan all along. He allowed me to become broken so that he could put me back together again, only better. I stand here today a new creature, so much more grateful and hopeful than that which was broken. I only hope I can use my experience to help others.

Salt and light changed my life in so many ways. The nutrition classes have taught me to be food-smart. Now my one-year old son and I have healthy eating habits and lots of energy. I was a bit nervous about doing yoga, since I have a prosthetic leg. But now I am stretching and strengthening muscles that were becoming atrophied. Many of the poses are modified for me, and I plan to use my yoga teaching certificate to help other amputees to practice Yoga, too!

The volunteers are so kind and eager to help us succeed. They are genuine, caring and patient. Women who have experienced trauma, like we have, need someone to teach us how to trust again. I have learned how to trust again.

I'm now a student at Harold Washington college, and in 2019 will earn my AA in business/economics. I'm a straight-A student. I’ve put together a business plan, focused on improving Chicago neighborhoods. I’m finally living the life I was meant to live.

C.K.