Rachel* is only 19 years old, but she considers herself an old soul. As a child, her parents didn’t give her the attention she desperately wanted. She searched for unconditional love that was always just out of reach.
Her biggest dream was to get married and have children. Now, as a young single mom, she fears she is too late.
At sixteen, Rachel was rebellious and thought she was ready to take care of herself. Her older sister, a drug addicted prostitute, introduced her to prostitution and showed her the ropes.
She immediately met a pimp and thought he would take care of her, but that wasn’t the case. “Things were difficult. I was beaten and slapped. My pimp took all the money,” said Rachel. She thought this lifestyle would make her rich, but instead she was taken advantage of and left with nothing. Eventually she was able to leave her pimp, but life was still hard.
Starting Over After Arrest
The day came when Rachel got arrested. She was given the opportunity to take part in Catholic Charities Dignity Diversion program, an intensive education-based program to divert women from re-offending. This program includes a 36-hour educational class, rehabilitation services that offer support, education and resources, as well as life-skills class. Once classes are completed, the charges can be dismissed.
In the end, Rachel looks back and says she is glad she got arrested. “I came from a rough background, the team here was really supportive. I felt like I could trust them and be myself. I finally felt free here, said Rachel.”
She knows she will never be the same and never go back to that life. “That life scars you,” said Rachel. She tries to help other girls who are in the life and warns them that it isn’t worth it. “When you’re on the streets, you have to worry about everything; you’re running from everybody because everyone is out to get you. People die over this.”
Rachel completed the Dignity Diversion program about a year ago. She takes life one day at a time and is in school and working toward her GED. She also has a job and finds pride in taking care of her baby. She wants her child to have a better life than she had.
*Name was changed to protect the client’s identity.