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Living with fear and betrayal

Lisa has been afraid her whole life. The abuse began when she was a child. She could never trust the adults in her life. She and her siblings were sexually abused by their parents and were sold to cruel and heartless strangers in exchange for drugs. The human trafficking began with the oldest daughter then moved to the next and the next until not even the babies were safe. Lisa recalls running with her toddler sibling to save him from being brutalized by a drug dealer with evil eyes and rough, dirty hands.

She escaped this nightmare into a very young marriage only to find she had chosen a partner who was not that much different from her father. Lisa has escaped before, usually after an injury or hospitalization. Each time she has returned. She has been thrown from a moving vehicle, hit in the head with a bat, choked and dragged around by her hair. These are the images that torture her day and night. She cannot imagine a happy life.

She has hidden out for long periods of the the home of a friend. Her children have each chosen one parent to support. Those on the other side are often the ones who betray her location. They have lived with this chaos their whole life and are confused about who to believe and who to protect. Fear and helplessness cause Lisa to return time and time again. She expects to die at the hand of the one who claims to love her; yet she cannot find the strength, and the resources, to live on her own.

Lisa's case is not unique. In a culture where substance abuse has laid waste to rural families and destroyed hope for those affected, survival becomes the goal. Over 1200 crisis calls were made to the law enforcement last year. Some find safe haven and start over. Walker County Coalition for the Homeless helps with rehousing and emergency solutions.

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