“Sharing Your Story Can Change A Life” #LiveOnGiveOn

Posted by in Everything Else on / 113 Comments

*Today’s conversation is sponsored by Medtronic; all opinions are my own.*
*Trigger Warning: child abuse and child trafficking.*

They say, “Write what you know.” So…I will.

This past spring, my husband and I made the decision to join the modern day abolition movement — to help end slavery in our time. Specifically, child sex trafficking.

My story starts many years ago, though.

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My father began molesting me when I was only three years old.

I was six the first time he raped me.

And I was nine when he sold me to a colleague for sex.

One night — and it was so damaging, even compared to the horrors I endured at my father’s hands, that I suffered a disassociative blank that didn’t lift until I was fifteen and something triggered the memory. Fourteen years later, and I am still dealing with the fallout of that one. single. night.

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Somehow — and I credit the grace of God, for I know no other explanation — I survived my childhood. My father is serving life in prison for his crimes, and I have chosen a new path for my own life, leaving dysfunction and trauma behind me.

But I want to give back. I want my story — my survival, and subsequent thriving life — to mean something good for others.

I want to do whatever I can to make sure no more girls suffer like I suffered.

I was only trafficked one time. And it changed my life in ways that I am still battling to overcome. Yet there are girls all over the world who are trafficked for sex every single night. This cannot stand.

So Nick and I are working toward that goal. He’s pursuing training and certifications in security and investigation, and he’s currently sending out applications and resumes all over the United States, looking for work in order to gain on the ground experience in techniques that he can use as a covert operative in the fight against child sex trafficking. And I — I will write. My own story, and the stories of others, to raise a flag that says ENOUGH. The only way to end child sex trafficking is to make it unprofitable — and trafficking thrives in darkness and silence. As does child abuse of every kind. While Nick hopes to fight trafficking by infiltration and rescue, I hope to fight it with words, and lots of them.

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Another person fighting to end child sex trafficking is Gretchen Merritt, one of this year’s Bakken Invitation Award honorees. I love her quote, pictured above — “What makes you angry? Work to change that.” Sex trafficking, especially of children, should make everyone angry. Gretchen does something about it by partnering with an anti- sex trafficking agency in India called Freedom Firm. The agency we hope to partner with is Destiny Rescue, based out of Thailand but operating in multiple countries. I admire people like Gretchen, who choose to make a difference with their lives, however they can. Whether you go yourself, or sponsored a rescued child financially, or buy fair trade goods made by at risk communities — every one of us can make a difference.

If you’d like to help us make a difference in the lives of trafficked and at risk children and their families, we hope you’ll consider checking out our story in more detail — we’ve shared it on our #GiveForward fundraiser page. You can click over via the fundraiser widget in my sidebar, to the right of this post.

In the meantime, the Bakken Invitation wants to give you the opportunity to do some good in your own community. Interested?

Enter the giveaway, below, for your chance to win a $100 VISA gift card — the catch is that you must use the money to give back in some way in your local community.

Honorees of the Bakken Invitation are selected because they have faced and overcome great adversity in their lives and health, and made the choice to use their “second life” to do good for others. You can read all about these ten incredible people, and I hope you will be inspired to rise above difficult circumstances in your own life, for the good of others. Even in the midst of suffering, we all get to choose how we will treat the people around us, and I count that a blessing.

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How do you give back to your community and loved ones?

*Thank you to Medtronic for sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% my own.*

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113 comments on ““Sharing Your Story Can Change A Life” #LiveOnGiveOn”

  1. I stopped by to check out our giveaway but what I didn’t expect was to be floored. This made me cry so hard. I am glad that you are fighting back now. I am also so sorry that you were violated by a person you were supposed to be able to trust. I am a mom and a grandma and I just want to put my arms around you and keep you safe which is silly since you are now a grown woman. This story touched me like no other story has, maybe it’s because I have my own demands. Maybe because you are so much braver than I or maybe it’s because you have taken such a horrible negative and are trying to with the help of your husband make it positive. I hope you slay all the demons and save as many children as you can and I will pray for both you and your husband each and every day. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, Rena. ? I really appreciate you!

  2. Oh, Alena. Thank you for what you do and for sharing your story. You are an amazing women to have overcome what you were put through when you were so young, by the person who should have been protecting you. Good luck with all of your plans. And yes, your story made me angry. But also hopeful, that with people like you and your husband we have a chance to put an end to sex slavery. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your kind and encouraging comment, Debbie. ? Thank you for reading!

  3. Kirsten said:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. (I’m also a Whovian.) Best.

    1. Thank you for reading! ? (My two year old just now found her robot “R” wooden block and shrieked “Delete!!!” at me with it! #LOL)

  4. Robin (Masshole Mommy) said:

    Wow. I am almost speechless here, First off, let me say how sorry I am that you had to go through so many horrible things when you were a child. It sounds like you have dealt with a lot of your demons and good for you for doing so. I almost can’t believe that things like this go on right under our noses.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Robin. Yes, it’s incredibly tragic how much evil lurks in our world, and often in very unexpected places. I appreciate you stopping by.

  5. I cried as I read your story. I am so sorry this happened to you – I am sickened that this was done to you and is done to children all over the world. Praise God that you are sharing your story to help others.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I know it’s very hard to read stories like this, and I appreciate you. ?

  6. omg, I am so sorry that you went through that, horrible. It took a lot to get those words down, your strength now will most definitely help make a change for others.

    1. Thank you, Tammi. It’s hard to write these things, sometimes – yes. But I know that reading other people’s stories has helped me in my journey, so I hope my words will in turn help others. Thank you for stopping by, and for your kind words. ?

  7. Dawn Lopez said:

    This takes my breath away and not in a good way. I can’t even believe this happened to YOU. We hear stories all the time, but when you have a face to go along with the story, it really hits home. Thank you for your courage to open up and share for the greater good. I wish you and your husband all the best in your efforts to end this sick and maddening problem!

    1. Thank you, Dawn. I really appreciate your kind words, and support. ? It IS hard when you suddenly know someone personally who’s been affected by something awful. I appreciate you!

  8. Shauna said:

    Oh my goodness, there are no words. I am so sad for what was done to you and so many other children and people out there. I commend you for standing and telling your story. I hope one day you will find peace and I am so proud that you are helping others. Big hugs..

    1. Thank you, Shauna. ? Even with things still to process, I really can say that I live a peaceful – and hopeful – life, now. My hope is that I can use that to help others find the same. I appreciate your encouragement.

  9. I am speechless. I am SO sorry, i cannot even wrap my head around what you endured. Praise God that it’s over and you are using what happened to your for the good of God’s glory – speaking out to your readers and sharing with us. XOXO

    1. Thank you for your kind words and support! Yes – praise God, and thank God. I can only hope that He will help me know what to say, and how to say it. That’s the hard part!

  10. Jennifer said:

    This doesn’t even sound real! And I don’t mean I don’t believe you. I mean I cannot believe anyone could do something so horrible, especially to their own child. I’m so sorry you had to endure such horrible things in your life.

    1. I appreciate you clarifying what you mean by that, and I understand. Believe me, there are parts of my story that even I shake my head over because they’re so extreme they almost defy belief – and I lived it! Thank you for your support and compassion, Jennifer.

  11. HS said:

    We take lunches to hospitals fire stations for people who work over the holidays. Also adopt a family to help with holiday wishes from gifts to meals.

    1. That’s great! What a unique idea; I’ll remember that (fire stations). Adopting a family for a holiday is also a wonderful idea. ?

  12. Aimee Smith said:

    You are truly an inspiration. There are so many out there who need our help, what a beautiful cause to fight for.

    1. Thanks, Aimee. ? I hope we can really do some good. It’s easy to become discouraged in these early stages, and I’m encouraged by all of the wonderful comments on this post!

  13. ellen beck said:

    You are a survivor and youre right- things that are made to stay in the dark keep thriving and feeding off of the darkness-mostly in the souls of those who live there.

    We give back to our community in several different ways.. we volunteer at a food giveaway site and help serve meals. I am an avid gardener and give some of what was bessed to me back to the food bank. We also love giving to Toys for Tots . Theres a long story involved there but years ago when I was a child our family got toys and I will never forget them.
    I also do TNR and socialize kittens out of pocket and maintain a feral cat colony (TNR is trap nueter release) I have done that well over 20 years .
    We do quite a but, and try to do more. So many people are hurting, and although we have little it is a pleasure to do what we can.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Ellen; I appreciate it.

      I think the ways you’re giving back are wonderful! ? I understand what you’re saying; no matter how much we do, it just makes us appreciate our privileged position – even during difficult times – and we just want to do more and more and more!

  14. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s so tragic, no child should have to endure that. I hope someday an end can be put to child trafficking.

    1. Thank you, dear. ? I hope so, too.

  15. I’m so sorry that you experienced such an awful thing. Thank you so much for trying to make people more aware.

    1. Thank you, Ellen. ?

  16. LaTanya said:

    Thank you for sharing your story. As painful as it was to share, for those that are unaware of horrific things that occur in the world, you never know who you will touch or inspire by sharing your story.

    1. Thank you, LaTanya. I agree; it may be difficult to share my story – and honestly, the hardest part is in knowing how much to say and how to say it – but if doing so helps even one person, it’s worth it.

  17. Elena said:

    I am so sorry this happened to you. What a tragic story.
    I give back by donating clothes and toys. I volunteer at our local pet shelter and donate some dog and cat food there

    1. Thank you, Elena. I appreciate your kind words. ? I’m glad to hear that you’re active in donating and volunteering! My heart is with hurting people, but we definitely can’t forget our four legged friends, either.

  18. Jessica Beard said:

    Wow, you are an amazing women to overcome this and want to do good for others! That is wonderful! I love to give back to my community if I am able financially. This money would be great to have to do more good. I would like to make care packages for people in my grandma’s nursing home. They are deserving of something to brighten their day!

    1. Thank you, Jessica. ? I think care packages for your grandma’s nursing home sounds like a wonderful idea! I’ve worked in nursing homes in the past, and the holidays are the very worse – so few residents see family at all, and many more don’t even hear from anyone or even get a card of gift. It’s heartbreaking! :'(

  19. Debi said:

    I can not even imagine. And you are so strong for sharing your story. My heart breaks for anyone who ever has to deal with this.

    1. My heart breaks, as well. Thank you for your kind words, Debi.

  20. Scott said:

    We have a local blood bank that I have volunteered at on occasion, packing plasma and blood for shipment to hospitals and companies that turn it into other medications.

    1. That’s wonderful, Scott! I love hearing how others are serving in their communities.

  21. Nicole Dz said:

    We give back all the time, by donating food, clothing, and this year we have been gathering coats to donate so everyone stays warm this winter season.

    1. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing, and for stopping by.

  22. Lisa Brown said:

    i give bank buy supporting our local food bank and charities that care for the elderly in our local hospices; my family loves to help in these areas.

    1. Thank you for sharing, that’s wonderful!

  23. Julie Wood said:

    I will give back by donating to the food bank. And helping with donating items to the soup kitchen. They are in great need this Christmas season!

    1. I completely agree – my family, and my family of origin before that, has needed to seek help with food this time of year many times (though not in the last 2 years, praise be). Thank you for sharing, and soldier on!

  24. Janet W. said:

    We give back by making donations to local shelters. We also participate in canned food drives. Lately, we’ve been donating toys to my grandson’s preschool that my grandsons have outgrown.

    1. Donating toys is such a wonderful thing to do. Thank you for sharing!

  25. Stephanie said:

    thank you for sharing your story!

    1. Thank you for reading it, Stephanie. ?

  26. Elle said:

    I give back by donating food and warm clothes like gloves/hats/ear bands to a local shelter.

    1. Wonderful, I’m glad to hear it! I can’t tell you how common it is for people to not be able to spare the $1-5 needed for even the cheapest hat or gloves. Thank you for your service.

  27. Heather Hayes Panjon said:

    I Give Back To My Community By Volunteering And Donating, I Give Back To My Loved Ones By Cooking, Babysitting Or Helping Them With Errands,

    1. Thank you for sharing, that’s great! As the mother of a toddler, I know your family must greatly appreciate the babysitting. Keep it up! 🙂

  28. Amanda Sakovitz said:

    I donate to toys for tots each year and i help my parents out by driving them to appts and helping them out with money when i can.

    1. Thank you for sharing; keep up the good work!

  29. Thomas Murphy said:

    I donate food. clothes, and money to my local shelter. I help my family by always being there for them and doing what ever I can.

    1. I’m so glad to see how many of you support your local shelters! A tragically needful service.

  30. Ashley Tucker said:

    I give back by donating to those who are less fortunate.

    1. Great to hear. Do you have a favorite charity?

  31. Saundra a said:

    I donate to the schools in my area.

    1. Fantastic! I’m really glad to hear it.

  32. Shannon said:

    We like to adopt a family at the holidays to remember it is a time of giving not receiving

    1. That’s a great lesson to learn and relearn at any age. Good for you, and thanks for sharing!

  33. steve weber said:

    I can’t believe what you went through.. may God bless you from this point forward.. too much evil in this world.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Steve. I can honestly say that even in the darkest times, I know that God was with me. He allowed my father the free will that he abused so horrifically, yes. But He also gave me the strength to endure, the courage to seek help until help was found, and the grace to let go and live a better life.

  34. Tabathia B said:

    I donate supplies and my oldest two daughters donate their time to the ronald mcdonald house

    1. That’s awesome! Thank you for sharing, Tabathia! Beautiful name, btw. ?

  35. Denise L said:

    I volunteer whenever I can at my son’s school. There are a lot of families in need there so my husband and I donate food often. I also walk dogs at our local shelter.

    1. Donating food is so crucial. Thank you for sharing!

  36. Cassandra Eastman said:

    We help by donating food to our community food drive, and donating clothes!

    1. That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  37. Sonya Morris said:

    This is a subject that gets to me, not because I have experienced it like yourself, but because I have three girls I adore. I could not imagine what you went through from the one person you should have trusted to protect you. I am so sorry. It makes me sick and angry that this happens. I know you and Nick will do amazing work to bring awareness to this and help others know they are not alone. You are my hero!

    I give back by donating to the food pantry and baby corner monthly but I could do more!

    1. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, Sonya. ? And thank you for giving back, yourself! Every act of kindness matters.

  38. Sonya Morris said:

    This is a subject that gets to me, not because I have experienced it like yourself, but because I have three girls I adore. I could not imagine what you went through from the one person you should have trusted to protect you. I am so sorry. It makes me sick and angry that this happens. I know you and Nick will do amazing work to bring awareness to this and help others know they are not alone. You are my hero!

    I give back by donating to the food pantry and baby corner monthly but I could do more!

  39. maureen simiyu said:

    I loveto volunteer at the food bank!

    1. That’s great! Keep up the good work!

  40. Michelle braaten said:

    I Am so sorry that you every had to go through that especially from someone you should have been able to trust. I wasn’t trafficked as a child, but I too dealt with molestation from my father for 11 years. He was a sick person, and when I finally told, he killed himself so he never saw justice. But now I feel SAFE. And that’s something I doubt a prison could ever give me.

    We give back to our community by donating toys and non perishable foods. Anytime I go to the store I always ask my neighbors (who are elderly) if they need anything while I’m out so they don’t have to get out if they don’t want to. It’s not a lot, I know, but it’s my part 🙂

    1. I’m sorry that we share the tragedy of abuse, Michelle. Thank you for telling me! I’m so glad you feel safe. And you’re right; while almost 8 years have passed, and he will never be released, there’s still on occasion that fear – that “what if” – in the back of my head. I do a good job of not focusing on it, but I also know that him getting life without parole is not the norm at this point in our culture, so most victims do have to worry about their abuser getting out of prison and seeking them out. I would hate to ever say I’m glad that you don’t have to worry about that the reason you don’t, but I am glad that you can sleep easy without that fear.

      I think what you do is great! I try to be aware of people around me who need an extra hand, too. My neighbors are all young without kids, right now.

  41. Amy Orvin said:

    I give back by buying cat food and treats to help feed the neighborhood cats in need.

    1. That’s great! I haven’t had a kitty for years, but I always notice them when I see them around the neighborhood.

  42. Birdiebee said:

    We give to the local food bank, donate money to local charities, make Christmas donations to those in need during the holiday season as well as I support my daughter and granddaughter during this tough time in their lives.

    1. I’m sorry that your daughter and granddaughter are going through difficult times. 🙁 I’m glad they have someone who cares about them enough to help. Thank you for sharing!

  43. What a horrible thing for you to live through. I love that you and your spouse are trying to make something positive come out of the situation.

    1. Thank you, Tammilee. ?

  44. chickie brewer said:

    Thank-you for sharing your story. I try To help where needed weather its a homeless person or a friend in need.

    1. Thank you for reading it. ? Being mindful of those around us in need is, I think, a mark of maturity and a giving spirit. It’s great to jump at opportunities as they’re flashed at us from the media, YES, but it’s also important to care for those who aren’t on everybody’s radar already.

  45. Brandy said:

    I think these type of memories are what help others realize they are not alone or were not alone in what they experienced back in the day. I am glad you shared it and have grown past it, and are using it as a means to share with others that this is reality for some. HUGS!

    1. That is definitely my hope, Brandy! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. ?

  46. Stefany said:

    Alena, I have known you for many years and I had no idea. I am so sorry for how your childhood occurred. You are an amazing woman to come out of that so beautifully.

    1. Thank you, Stefany. ? It’s encouraging to me to know that someone watching my life (especially on Facebook, where you see the “oh my gosh I just can’t” and I lose it posts #lol) doesn’t see “trauma” stamped on my forehead. There are days I feel like it is! So good to know. And thank you; we haven’t chatted much lately, but I’m really glad to know you. ?

  47. Kristin said:

    I am so sorry that you went through this. I am glad that you and Nick have found ways to fight back and make a difference.

    1. Thank you, Kristin. ? Me, too! 🙂

  48. Wow – that’s a powerful story and the courage to speak out on it is breathtaking. With your strength and the support of those around you, you can recover from this and keep the horror from happening to other children.

    1. Thank you, Gabriel. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement. I hope that we are up to the task!

  49. Michelle F. said:

    So sorry you had to go through that at childhood but so happy you survived it. Thanks for sharing your story to help others.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Michelle. ?

  50. Gina M (Wild Orchid) said:

    I give back by donating personal care items to our local womens shelter, and food items to our food pantry!

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    Entered the rafflecopter form as “Wild Orchid”

    wildorchid985 AT gmail DOT com

    1. That’s wonderful, thank you for sharing! ? Keep up the good work!

  51. Sarah Hayes said:

    I give back by shopping local and helping the small businesses in the area

    1. Supporting our local economies is definitely very important. 🙂

  52. Amy said:

    I am so sorry you had to deal with this traumatic evil when you were a child. I really have no words that will console you because it is just so cruel and unimaginable. God is so good in that he saved you, so you could help others. I hope you and your husband are able to help thousands.

    1. Thank you, Amy. ? My prayer is most definitely that God will use my story to lift others out of darkness, as He has lifted me.

  53. Allie said:

    I donate items to the local shelter

  54. kristin said:

    This is just so sad. Awareness is the best way to put an end to it.

    1. Thank you, Kristin.

  55. e michelle said:

    Makes me sad and angry to read stories like that.A lot of us have battle scars when it comes to child abuse and I wish no child had to ever endure any kind of hurt. I just try to help when I can, giving clothes and toys to the homesless shelter volunteering my time. Its not much but If I can make one persons day less difficult its worth it.

    1. Anything we do to help lift up others is worthwhile, even if the gesture is small. Keep up the good work. ? I’m sorry my story caused you sadness, dear. I hope that any scars you have fade with time, and you find comfort and healing.

  56. I’m so sorry that you went through that. No child should ever have to suffer like you did, but it happens, and because you’re speaking out about it I know you are somehow helping to put an end to it. I know it took a lot of strength to type out those words, but I also know you must feel liberated in a sense that you got it all out there. Wishing you peace.

    1. Thank you, Tiffany. ?

  57. jenna d said:

    I donate food, toys, and clothing all year long.

    1. Excellent, thanks for sharing!

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