Between the age of five and ten years old, I was abused sexually by people close to me. Two things allowed me to navigate life with strength and hope for the future, faith, and support from a few good people.

I was around nine years old when I found my faith. My mom was a cook in a catering truck and took me to work with her on school vacation breaks. Her boss was a Christian man who she confided in about the issues I was having. At the time I was haunted by nightmares, fought violently with my little brother, and had begun lying at school. On one of my trips to her work, my mother’s boss asked me if I knew of Jesus. I did not. He told me, “Jesus is the son of God, and He wants to help you.” He said if I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior, He would enter my heart and live with me forever. I would never be alone again. That afternoon on the metal floor of a hot and greasy lunch truck, I knelt before the son of God and repeated a prayer accepting Him into my life.

Life has been getting better and better ever since. My problems were not solved over night, but there was a definite shift in my life. I found comfort in knowing that God was with me. He gave me the strength to confront my life and brought the right people around me to guide and support me.

Fifth grade was a pivotal year for me. My fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Cantwell came into my life at a crucial time and stepped in to build a support system around me. She placed me in a group for kids experiencing divorce and alcoholism within their families. School became my safe-haven and that group of kids my second family. The impact they had on my life is evident in that I remember them fondly still today. I will forever be in their dept. It was within that safe space that I spoke up about the abuse I had experienced for the first time.

That year, I also received health education. That was the first and only time an adult ever had a conversation with me about my body and puberty. It was then that I realized the sexual touching and odd games were not appropriate. I confronted my abuser and told him if he ever touched me again, I was going to tell the police. It never happened again.

Who are the people in your life who have shined a beacon of HOPE, helped you through a difficult time, or love and serve you expecting nothing in return?

If you have or know someone like that, remember that God loves you and He placed them in your life for a reason. Lean on them. Let them love you. Ask them for guidance. Follow their good example, and watch the light and power of God grow in your life.

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