Why We Exist
Abby called the Next Step Ministries emergency call line. She was desperately looking for a safe place to live and help her escape from the abuse and addiction she was currently experiencing.
Becky answered the phone. There was a frantic voice at the other end as she listened to Abby urgently telling her that she was running from a life of prostitution, drug addiction and a very abusive relationship. Her life for the last 25 years had been a living hell, she was at the end of her rope and wanted out.
Becky asked where Abby was and immediately got in her car to meet her at a fast food restaurant close to where she called from. When Becky arrived, there were many people in line waiting to order, but she immediately knew who Abby was. She was wearing an old pair of dirty shorts and a tank-top, her arms were marked up, she was skin and bones, her face was gaunt and had sores on them likely from drug abuse. Her eyes had a distant but desperate look in them. She couldn’t stand still and was fidgety and constantly scanning the room.
Becky approached her and asked if her name was Abby and if she wanted something to eat. Abby said yes, I haven’t had a meal in weeks. After talking to Abby for a while, it became obvious that she was full of fear and pain. Abby was on the run. Becky asked her if she wanted out, she said yes and Becky brought her to the Next Step Ministries house. When Abby walked into the house she fell on her knees and cried to God, thanking him for saving her and for providing her with a safe place.
Denise, our live in volunteer, showed her the house and walked her over to her room. Immediately she started crying again. It had been years since she felt safe and had her own room with a bed in it. Abby jumped on the bed, smelled the brand new pillow and hugged the blanket. It was beautiful to see this, but it was only the first step.
Over the following two days, we were able help Abby get clean underwear and some more clothes, groceries, hygiene items, and her phone changed so her abuser couldn’t find her. In the weeks to come, we would also get her an ID card and set up on government financial assistance.
Abby started attending a program we provide to help break the cycle of addiction and abuse in her life. She started using what she was learning. The road to recovery for Abby was extremely challenging as she worked through the abuse that started when she was a little girl until she came to next Step Ministries. Even though she was in a safe place, she lived in constant fear that her most recent abuser would find her. At times her trauma was through the roof, but she stuck with the program.
She had a couple of slips, as most people do, but she was able to push through and has been clean and sober for 8 months. She has reconnected with her family and was able to get her children back in her life. She is determined to succeed and continues to go to Narcotics Anonymous meetings. She is doing what it takes to continue on the path of recovery and to ensure she never goes back to how her life was. Abby stays connected with us on a weekly basis and is now planning and figuring out what is next for her in life.
As we walk alongside women fighting so hard to escape their lives of sexual exploitation, their stories may vary, but they all come from a place of trauma and darkness. They are desperately searching for a way to live life with dignity and safety. Like all of us, they want to feel like they belong, they want to be good friends, good parents, good members of our community. They want to matter.