When I asked Stella* if she would be willing to speak to me for this month’s SAVE Ink Homeward Bound article, she graciously replied “Yes, if you think it will help someone.” She explained that she had written her story a few years ago and that we could print it.
Her story was difficult to read. It’s a painful story that she had to put to paper, she says. “It was not easy to do, but I did it.”
Below is Stella’s story, edited for size.
This is the story of my life. I was born in KC, Mo. and raised to the age of 5 by my maternal grandmother and her husband.
I never knew my blood father. I did know my step-dad and he was a fine man. I also got to know my mother’s first husband, in a very bad way.
When I was 3, during one of my weekend visits, my mom’s first husband was also there visiting his own two daughters (my two sisters). During a card game, he physically molested me.
I was told not to tell anyone and I didn’t, because I was afraid to. When I finally told my oldest sister, she didn’t believe me and probably still doesn’t.
Before I was 14, I had been brutally raped by three boys and my brother-in-law. The prosecutor convinced me to drop charges against my brother-in-law to prevent any embarrassment to my nieces. The police never charged the three boys, but I did eventually convince them to admit the truth.
By the ripe old age of 15, I had run away from home, taken LSD, slept under a picnic table, gotten caught by the law and taken back to the home of my grandmother and her husband.
While I was asleep on my grandmother’s couch one afternoon, her husband decided to climb on top of me. I woke up, fought him off, threatened to tell my grandmother, packed what clothes I had into a plastic garbage bag and left, walking down a gravel country road in the rain.
I never told my grandmother. When I finally did tell my mother, she informed me that he had tried the same on her when she was younger. She said that when she had told her mother, she was blamed.
I spent several years taking heavy drugs — IV-style — and eventually turned to heavy drinking.
I spent 10 years homeless because of my addictions and prostituted myself to support those addictions. For two of those years, there was a spot under the porch of a church that I called home. That is, when I wasn’t too drunk or high to find it.
Then I met a lady who said she wanted to help me. She convinced me to go into detox, treatment and transitional living. I was offered counseling, meals, support, warmth and a number of opportunities.
One major truth I learned is that God’s grace, along with my cooperation, is what keeps me clean, sober and happy.
I now live in my own apartment and have a man friend. He’s a simple kind of man who asks only for respectful companionship in return.
Someone once said to me, “Stella, you’re a walking miracle.” My reply was, “We all are.”
All of my life, I’ve been considered a nobody by society, my family and myself. Now, at least I know that I’m somebody.
Stella has been clean and sober for 11 years. She has lived on SAVE, Inc. property for almost 11 years. “You all have been good to me. I love my home. I love my neighbors — they’re all my friends.”
*Name has been changed.