Laura grew up in a seemingly happy, well-to-do home. Her parents were active and respected in the community. No one would have suspected them of physically and sexually abusing her.
Laura was counting on her older brother to take her in but when he closed his door on her, the 15-year-old was alone with nowhere to go. A few days later, hunger and desperation drove Laura to accept an offer of money for sex that took her down a path from which few find their way back.
“I was desperate and had been taught that that’s what I could do.”
Laura recalls how she told herself she “would only do that to get through another day and then to get through the next week.” She tells her story in a low, quiet voice that echoes her pain.
Soon Laura found the people she was getting to know were willing to give her a place to stay, meals and clothing – for a price.
“Those people have a way of working you into doing what they want. They know how to control you. They can be charming and make you feel you’re the special one. I longed for that because I was so alone and rejected. I wanted to believe they loved me.”
But there were also threats of violence and abuse. Months later, Laura was moved from working on the street to an escort service run by a prostitution ring operating out of a downtown restaurant.
“I wanted to get out. I was just so tired of living day to day. I was constantly just surviving.” Another girl she met brought her to Covenant House.
“I finally found a place where I could put my head down,” Laura says. “It was hard for me to believe or trust anyone – that took a long time.”
Laura stayed at our shelter several times before she could open up to staff. “Covenant House never turned me away and there were staff I could talk to who helped me see other options.”
“I remember one of the staff telling me one night that they were rooting for me. That really stayed with me.”
The way back took Laura several years. A high school drop-out, she went back to school and managed to finish some university courses while she worked full-time.
Today, Laura is a married mom of two and heads up a business.