A Season of New Life and Hope
by Sister Kathleen Coll, SSJ
Spring 2019, a season of new life and hope, is not disappointing us. Everywhere we look, Earth broke through the winter-hardened soil with crocus and daffodil’s tender shoots. Glorious colors and sweet-smelling flowers greet our senses and lift our hearts for a welcome break after gloomy, cold days of winter.
Stories of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking also, abound with new life. This is one woman’s reflection on her journey through the darkness to a hope-filled new season of life.
Most people would think being released from jail a year early was a good thing, but for me it was a disaster. I had nowhere to live and would be plunged right back into my old life of prostitution and drugs.
I had been working furiously to find a program that would take me. I wrote dozens of letters, but resources are very limited in prison. I kept plugging away and thought I had a year to find placement, when I got notice of early release.
My family wanted no part of me after all I had put them through. An old boyfriend would take me back, and I knew what that meant. All the work I had done while in jail would be for nothing. If I went back to him, I would have been dead by now.
On the street, depression would set in, and I’d settle for anything, because of him and I felt I didn’t deserve better. It wasn’t until after my 22ndarrest that I realized that I really needed help, and started looking for a program to take me. There were no beds in any programs but then, I found Dawn’s Place.
Now, I’m so appreciative. My whole family is in my life. No one talks about the past or judges me. I’m more grateful than I’ve ever been. I had no life, no soul before. I wake up thanking God that I’m alive. I wouldn’t change my life because it made me appreciate even the littlest things that I used to take for granted.
The time in my life when I felt that I didn’t deserve Dawn’s Place, that I just deserved all the bad things that happened to me, seems so long ago. Dawn’s Place gave me back my self-esteem, helped me on the road to good health, empowered me to find housing and a job, made me independent, strengthened me to stay clean and sober and lead me to find my voice.
Stories like this are evidence of the strength and resiliency of the human spirit and offer the possibility of a brighter future to other women in critical need.