Each of our women have a unique story and each have a very special journey. These are the stories of just a few of our women at GenerateHope.
When I found myself homeless, I was thankful I had friends there to help out. One of them owned his own company and I agreed to work for him in exchange for a place to live. I worked for the company for about one week, until he informed that I was not going to be working in the office anymore. I was going to be one of his girls. I was really confused by this and didn’t understand. It was then I learned he was a well-known pimp in the San Diego area.
He sat me down with another one of his women, and told me what I had to do if in order to "pay" my way. I was going to be a prostitute and that was all that there was to it, no questions asked. I was forced to go out and sell my body, which in many ways felt like I was selling my own soul. I had to work in National City, as well as in the North Park area of San Diego, as well as in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I did this for almost two years.
I was arrested for the last time while I was working on El Cajon Boulevard in 2010. My saving grace was the detective who told me I was worth more than what I was doing.
Through this detective, I was able to enter GenerateHope. GenerateHope literally saved my life. I really don't believe that I would be here without entering into the program. It was a place that I was able to feel safe enough to be myself and for me to come to know God again. I was also able to overcome my drug addiction and I have been clean for 30 months now.
I feel like I am one of the lucky ones who was able to get out of that life. Every one at GenerateHope is there for one reason and one reason only: for us girls, who have been trafficked, to change our lives for the better. I wish that there were more programs like this but I am so grateful for everything that was offered to me through GenerateHope.
It is because of the program that I am now going to school to be a social worker and that I want to work in the prison system, so that I am able to help save other people through my own life experiences. I have since graduated from the GenerateHope program, however I am still a part of the community there. I know that I will be a part of the family there forever.
While walking down the street one day, a van pulled up to Crystal. Before she knew what was happening, a group of men forced her into the van. In seconds, her life had changed. Crystal was kidnapped and forced into a life of sex slavery.
Held captive and unable to escape, she was forced to use drugs and repeatedly raped, beaten and tortured by her traffickers. Handcuffed when she slept and frequently held at gunpoint, freedom was a distant thought. She didn't know how she would ever escape.
One day, while with a john, Crystal saw the opportunity to escape. And so, she ran. Crystal ran for her freedom and was able to escape, but would now live with the fear and terror of her traffickers finding her. She did her best to return to her family and to a normal life, but she was haunted by memories, nightmares and fear.
The trauma of her kidnapping and trafficking left her so broken and afraid that she couldn't even leave her bedroom. So, months later, desperate to find healing, Crystal began searching for help.
Crystal tried several programs before finding GenerateHope, but nothing fit. Programs that didn’t have therapy or education or that were focused on domestic violence, not sex trafficking turned out to be more damaging than helpful. Exhausted from it all, she says she nearly gave up hope that she would ever receive the help she needed. When she finally arrived at GenerateHope, it took her days to unpack her bag, as she waited for the let down of not being understood.
Crystal did unpack her bag and put her heart into the program at GenerateHope. She was overjoyed with the education, therapy and a loving team there to support her needs.
Each day she is working towards her own healing so that she can live in freedom and without fear. Crystal now takes joy in her classes and therapy groups and is working toward her college education and a career.
Cedrice is now 21 years old, but her story begins as a young girl. Instead of spending the holidays with her family, she could be found on the streets of San Diego, being sold over and over. Sleeping all day, working all night.
While it seemed Cedrice had the picture perfect family, her home life was violent and abusive. Adopted with her biological sister, Cedrice watched her parents abuse her sister for years, before becoming desperate to find a way out
“Life at home became too much. Mama and Daddy were never getting along and my sister received the repercussions of their unhappiness. All I could understand at the time was, “This isn’t right” and that something had to change. My parents weren’t happy. Trying to void out the hurt by running away, I started smoking weed and drinking alcohol. It made the pain go away.
My lack of street smarts brought me down a path of being befriended and manipulated into being trafficked to sell my body to men. These people that I thought were my friends turned me into an adult way to fast. They completely took my innocence and turned it upside down by taking advantage of my immaturity. I was simple prey.
Before I knew what was going on, I was in a car with a girl and her pimp, about to be dropped off on El Cajon Blvd. I was thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” But, there was no turning back. My innocence was lost in one day. I went from riding a bike to the next day being a 14 year old prostitute
Looking back at how much I've grown since 2009, I realized that I do have self-worth and I am a beautiful woman. I will keep pushing and continue to be the strong woman I know that I can be. I want to empower young girls that have been trafficked."
Since coming to GenerateHope, Cedrice has graduated with her High school Diploma, started classes at community college and is taking classes to. She dreams of achieving her education, being reunited with her son and creating a good life for them both.