There are times when my heart breaks for the girls in our home. The fears and pain they carry can be overwhelming at times and I wonder how it's possible for them to keep going on. And then there are times when I am blown away by the sheer strength I see from them, these sweet girls, these beautiful survivors in our refuge.

One particular girl, whom I will call Hope* has struck a cord in my heart in the past few months. Her story is overwhelmingly tragic, and when she first arrived a few months ago, we were all a little worried about how she would cope. I remember talking with the counseling team a few months ago and being struck by the horror of her life. At multiple points I stopped the meeting to clarify bits of her background and felt terrible dread: How could she possible overcome some of these deep, deep, loses?

Hope is the daughter of a two prostitutes, raised on cardboard boxes on the streets until she was 5 years old, when her mother married an extremely abusive European man. Her stepfather's beatings and molestation started immediately. The raping began when she was 12. When she was 15, her "parents" pimped and trafficked her to other foreign men, and would beat her if she refused. She was rescued about six months after this began and both of her "parents" are currently in jail awaiting trial.

Now, let's get one thing clear: most likely Hope will struggle, on some level, for the rest of her life because of the abuse she has endured. That is the way of life. Unfortunately, there are no miraculous cures for her trauma, but we can offer her consistent love, good counseling, support in every possible way, and if she is willing to invest a lot of work, there will be a lot of healing and growth.

And Hope has invested work. Many of the trauma symptoms she displayed upon first arriving six months ago have improved markedly, she's a bit less fearful, a bit more trusting. She has been making leaps and bounds in ways that have actually surprised myself and many of the other staff members. To top it off, Hope is brilliant. Her diligence in studying her high school lessons has been nothing short of remarkable. Her English skills are phenomenal, and she really likes to write. In fact, she writes so well that our home school program has published some of her writing in their newsletter!

And even more impressive, are the actual words of her writing. Her strength shines through the paper and ink. As does her HOPE.

Please read Hope's words below. Do they encourage you? Write her a message in the comments section and we will pass it on!




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More stories by Crystal S.