‘I was born into it. This was my family, the people who were supposed to love and protect me.’: Sex trafficking survivor beats 12-year opioid addiction, bravely embarks on self-healing journey

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Disclaimer: This story contains details of sexual abuse, human trafficking, and self-harm that may be upsetting to some.

“I was about 7 years old when I lost my virginity to my father. I had woken up on my mother’s bed after having a nightmare and I was deeply afraid. I went searching for my mother, but she was nowhere to be found and I realized I was alone in the house. I had called my father and asked him to come over in an attempt to feel safe. When he got to my home, we went searching for her and once he realized we were truly alone, he raped me on my mother’s bed. I remember freezing in fear. This was my father; I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t move, I was frozen in time and I felt I had no choice but to accept the violent abuse that was happening to me. After he was done, we found my mother on the porch swing passed out from a night of drinking.

Little girl experience sexual abuse at home smiles for a photo with a sunset backdrop and a candle next to her
Courtesy of Kayla Adams

This was only the beginning. The abuse with my father continued throughout the years. I would go to his home and he would abuse me. On Christmas Eve when we would go to my grandfather’s, he would force me to do things to him on the ride up there if he was driving with me alone. If I tried to speak up or if I would do anything he considered as bad or ‘disobeying’ him, he would rape me. I don’t believe he ever even considered my feelings. It was always about him and his own selfish needs. He believed because I was his daughter, he owned me. He always told me what to believe and what I could and couldn’t say. I wasn’t allowed to talk about the abuse even after the abuse ended when I was 9 years old.

Young girl experiencing sexual abuse from her father poses with her family in front of the Christmas tree with a green dress on
Courtesy of Kayla Adams

I lived with my mother and grandma the majority of the time. I never felt safe there either. Like my father, my mother had a severe drug and alcohol problem. She took all of her pain out on me and I recognize now that my mother was narcissistic as well. If she wasn’t happy, no one was allowed to be happy. My sister’s and I grew up in a world of chaos. We were screamed at every day and constantly told how worthless we were. My mother would devalue us every opportunity she had, but to the outside world, she was the perfect mother. She was kind, fun to be around, a great cook, loved her children, but to my sister’s and I, she was a nightmare. She criticized us, she violently beat us and screamed at us everyday. I dreaded the holidays because she would always manage to create drama. It was as if we were growing up in world war 3 and my mother could explode in anger at any moment. As the scapegoat of the family, I walked on eggshells constantly, fearful of what the day was going to bring.

Young girl rides on a seesaw with her narcissistic mother at the playground
Courtesy of Kayla Adams

Around the same time that my father started raping me around 1998, my mother started trafficking me to her drug dealer and various other men. It would usually happen at night after everyone fell asleep. She would sneak me out of the house and take me to her drug dealers house where him and other men would rape me. I would always wake up in a different place than I originally fell asleep. I knew in my heart what was happening to me was wrong, nothing about it felt okay. I felt trapped – this was my family. The people who were supposed to love me and protect me the most in this world. I felt alone and I didn’t understand why they would do this to me.

The sexual abuse with my parents went on until I was about 9 years old when children services got involved. My sister and I went to live with some family in Mansfield, Ohio for about a year until our mother received custody of us again. I still remember the day we came home; my mom made us a sign that said ‘welcome home’ and I remember standing outside of our house, staring at the place I once believed was my home but, from this moment on, it was no longer home. I realized it was a place I didn’t want to be. A place filled with dark secrets and lies that stayed hidden for years.

Little girl and her sister sit in a car together while smiling and spending time together
Courtesy of Kayla Adams

By the time I was 12 years old, the anger from it all surfaced and I began lashing out at my mother. Even after the sexual abuse, my mother would abuse me. She would verbally abuse and shame me by brainwashing me into believing I deserved the way I was treated and that the abuse was my fault. I believed her. I internalized all of my pain and suffering because I was taught that my emotions weren’t valid. I had no right to feel what I was feeling, so I internalized everything I felt. I was taught that my voice didn’t deserve to be heard.

I found a passion for writing at an early age; it was the only way I was able to express myself. I poured my heart and soul into my writing. Most days, writing poetry saved my life. It was the one place I could go where my deepest thoughts and feelings were heard. Still, I never wrote about the sexual abuse because I knew my mother would read everything I wrote. I pretended not to remember any of it. The anger I felt, I would internalize it and for years it contributed to my own destruction. I started to cut, attempt suicide, anything to cause myself pain because I believed there was something inherently wrong with me.

Teen girl suffering from childhood trauma takes a selfie with dark makeup in an all-black outfit
Courtesy of Kayla Adams

Eventually, this path led me to a drug addiction that started in 2007 when I was 15 years old. I excessively used drugs as a way to escape the suffering I had endured. I was actively participating in my own destruction, which led to a 12-year battle with opiates and for the last 2 years of that battle I was using IV fentanyl to numb the pain. In August 2019, I committed suicide by intentionally doubling my dose. A friend at the time had brought me back using Narcan. Probate court got involved and on August 21, 2019, the court issued for me to be taken to a mental health facility for treatment. This was the last time I used drugs. At first, I was angry and I didn’t value myself enough to agree to treatment, but I had no choice but to go. After spending a few days in treatment, I quickly realized this was a blessing in disguise and the universe had answered my prayers. This was my chance to get sober and change my life.

Woman battling drug addiction takes a selfie with her friend
Courtesy of Kayla Adams

I made myself a couple of promises while I was lying in that hospital bed, going through intense withdraws. I knew I never wanted to feel that pain again. In previous sobriety attempts, I had learned the knowledge necessary and I began to remember everything I had learned. I knew I had to face the truth, I had to stop running from my childhood. I needed to face it head on, no matter how difficult. I promised myself I would do whatever it took to transform my life by healing and facing the very thing that terrified me the most: the abuse. I was tired of lying to myself about what happened and everyone around me. I then promised myself that by my 2-year sobriety anniversary I would file a report with the police and press charges on the family members who were involved with raping and trafficking me. Somehow, I knew I would find peace in all of this.

In September 2019, I was released from the hospital. I moved back in with my grandmother and one of my sexual abusers, a cousin of mine who had also raped me 3 times in my childhood. I then worked on myself day and night. I was on a mission to change myself and to make my dreams a reality no matter what I had to do. I began to remember my dreams of becoming a bestselling author and public speaker, inspiring millions of people. I’ve always wanted to teach people how to come out of suffering and to inspire them with my story. After 7 months of intensive personal development, studying, doing the inner work, and practicing self love, I was finally ready to take action on my plans.

In March 2020, I opened my business in the middle of the pandemic as a Psychic Medium and Empowerment Coach. Everyone told me it was impossible, everyone told me I couldn’t do it, no one believed in me, but I did. I had nothing left to lose. Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified. I’m still terrified of my dreams. But my love for humanity and for helping people is everything to me. It’s the very thing that got me through my darkest days; the thought of my dreams and of my sister’s fueled me to face my fears and to overcome any obstacles I had to face to get where I wanted to be.

Young girl sits with her two sisters while she reads them a bedtime story
Courtesy of Kayla Adams

When I started my business, I had severe social anxiety. Camera’s triggered me as well as talking on the phone and any kind of paperwork – everything scared me. I would panic at the thought of launching my business, taking a risk, something as simple as talking to a potential client, starting a YouTube channel, all of it. It was terrifying, but I made myself a promise and I owed this to myself. In July/August 2020, I slowly began to get into public speaking. I was offered an 8-minute window on the radio nationwide and I launched my YouTube channel.

In September 2020, reality began crashing down on me once again. My PTSD was off the charts as I was living with one of my abusers and I was beginning to realize more and more that I couldn’t trust my family. I started recognizing that they would gaslight me several times a day and they would intentionally try to program me with fear and unworthiness. I remember one day I was expressing to my grandma that my mental health wasn’t good and I needed my own room temporarily to get it under control. At the time, I was sleeping in the living room and my sexual abuser’s room was right by where I was sleeping. I expressed that I didn’t feel safe. She began tearing me down immediately and as I went into a panic attack, she began to scream at me. In this moment, I realized I couldn’t trust the one person who I considered to be my rock.

I slowly started to disappear from my family. It started with canceling holiday dinners. I slowly began to fade out of their lives. Instead of showing up to Thanksgiving dinner at my sisters, I gave myself space to cry, heal, and mourn because I knew I would be leaving my family behind for good. I couldn’t un-see the truth. I couldn’t ever go back to the person I was with them. I had the awareness and understanding that I was in a dangerous place. As I planned my escape, I played pretend and wore a smile on my face knowing the truth we all had buried so deep. I transformed myself in front of the people who had broken me and then I left them all behind.

On Christmas Day 2020, I began my journey of moving clear across the country to California from Ohio. This is the first time I’ve had zero contact with my family, but it’s exactly what I needed. The more time I spend away from them, the more I realize who I truly am and what I deserve. For several months I began working on myself more intensively. I began diving deeper into my wounds through journaling in attempts to understand myself. Piece by piece, I successfully found my voice and the courage to face my greatest fear. In June 2021, I’m grateful to say I finally filed a report and I’m currently in the midst of my case, nearly 3 months before my 2-year sobriety.

Woman recovering from a drug addiction and childhood trauma poses in a black dress and heels
Courtesy of Kayla Adams

My greatest lesson was this: value yourself and honor yourself above all else. No matter what you’ve been through or where you come from, you can utilize your suffering, your trauma and transform it into self empowerment. For years, I believed I was as worthless as my abusers said I was. I took in every hateful word and action. I dwelled in that place of suffering and unworthiness and I hated myself, I criticized myself. I realized later on in my journey that my abusers didn’t do those things to me because I was unworthy. They did those things because they felt unworthy; they didn’t love themselves and they harbored anger in their hearts. I chose to go down this path of forgiveness because I was living in a prison of resentment. I used to believe forgiving them meant it was okay that they hurt me and for that reason, I chose not to forgive. I realized on this path that forgiveness isn’t for your abusers, it’s for you. So you can be free from the suffering, from the anger, resentment, and sadness you feel every day.

Human trafficking is happening everywhere. Sometimes, yes, it’s someone in a van who kidnaps their victims, but it’s also the people who we least expect that are traffickers. Some of us are born into it; we aren’t given a choice and the majority of us stay silent, never speaking up about what happened to us. Sexual abuse is one of those things that is so difficult to talk about because we feel so much shame and guilt, and we blame ourselves for what happened. If you have ever been abused in any way, please know it is not your fault and you didn’t deserve it. You can break free from the chains of abuse.”

Woman recovering from childhood trauma and addiction takes a headshot for her physic medium and empowerment coach job
Courtesy of Kayla Adams

This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Kayla Adams. You can follow her journey on Facebook, Instagram, and her website. Have an amazing story of your own to share? Submit it here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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