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For 30 years, I ran from myself. Now, I’m graduating from college!

“Hitting me with a truck.

Chaining me to a stove.

Pouring boiling hot water on me.

Being sold and re-sold.”

Allie has overcome a lot of trauma. She now has a 4.0 GPA and is graduating with her Associate’s Degree in English in December 2016. She plans to transfer into a B.A. program at the University of Houston. In the midst of her traumatic childhood experiences, she still graduated from high school at the age of 17. She even went straight to college afterward, but she went through over 30 years of destruction before she was ready to return.

As she is stepping into a new space, we asked her to dig deeper into a darker side of herself that she has done a lot of work to heal from. Personal healing can sometimes comes in the form of sharing our stories.

Today, in addition to being a student, Allie works with different community organizations in Houston to bridge gaps between healthcare and criminal justice professionals, two entities that interact most often with abused women.

Click play on the YouTube video below to listen to Allie’s story, recorded by 3rdMilClassroom. Keep reading to see what she shared with the us as a Jeannette Rankin Scholar.

At the age of 3, Allie was raped by her grandfather for the first time.

Allie endured this traumatic abuse until she was 11 years old when he passed away.

Soon after, she decided she had had enough and decided to run away. To survive, she ran into the arms of “boyfriends” who were 20-30 years old and offered her food, shelter, clothing, and drugs in exchange for sexual favors.

Allie soon started getting into human trafficking. For a long time, she didn’t even acknowledge that what she was doing was called human trafficking and prostitution.

Allie goes back and forth through unstable spaces for years, desperately looking for “a high or experience to cope with issues [she] didn’t want to deal with.”

In her early teens, she started experiencing flashbacks from her past and that’s when her family realized that something was extremely wrong. Drugs helped temporarily suppress the anxiety of the flashbacks.

“I was scared of my own voice.”

You could say she has a bit of a Breaking Bad story because she started making meth by stealing from her school’s chemistry lab. Her successful drug operation led her to develop a heroin addiction. “Addiction turned the fear [of my own experiences] into hate.  At that point, everything I was cooking, I was using.”

Allie shared that what most people don’t understand is drugs, sexual abuse, prostitution, human trafficking are all related forms of power and self-destruction.

When she moved to South Central L.A., her body became a part of a local gang’s initiation process. The initiates were forced to kidnap Allie, rob her, and take turns having their fun with her. Her trafficker coincidentally always showed up to save her after these events.

Even when her trafficker stabbed her, this still wasn’t her wake up call because she had fallen in love with him and he made her feel less broken. Amidst the beatings and mistreatment, there was a twisted form of affection and acknowledgment that she feigned for from him.

After going to jail for an eighth felony, Allie decided she was ready to do the work to heal from her past and to save herself.

“For the first time, I was forced to surrender to my reality.”

In 2014, Allie enrolled in a vocational school in Houston after being denied admission to countless programs because of her paper trail of mistakes and felonies.

For so long, she was really just trying to make it, especially with her former trafficker of 8.5 years. If she ever came home empty-handed, he always greeted her with a beating.

“In order to survive emotionally, I created someone else who was able to deal with those stressors.”

When do you find space for education in the midst of fighting for daily life?

An oppressor’s strongest biggest weapon is to deny one access to education, to deny one the opportunity of being empowered and educated. An educated woman is dangerous because she is able to rewrite and re-shape her narrative.  An education equips women with more resources to be self-sufficient and to better serve her community.

“At first, I didn’t want to dream big because it required sacrifices to be made.”

Allie has been clean for three years and has used her resourceful nature to seek financial aid for her education. We are beyond proud to have her as one of our Jeannette Rankin Scholars.

She facilitates focus groups with imprisoned women who’ve endured child exploitation by using storytelling and art as coping mechanisms.

When she isn’t studying or serving in the community, she loves to spend time with her grandmother and belove dog.

Pictured on right is Allie’s grandmother and her beloved dog. Pictured on left is an original piece created by Allie.

“My grandmother has seen me with black eyes and with my pimps and she still loves me unconditionally. She’s my rock.”