Meet Santana

I can honestly say running away from what I had to call home was the best decision I have ever made in my life. For seven years of my life, I was being molested by my grandfather. I never wanted to go to sleep because I knew shortly after, he would be coming into my room to make me do things to him. I couldn't tell anyone, or it would have just gotten worse. My grandmother knew what was happening but refused to help me and still denies it happened. "Our home" never had food in it... some nights my brother, sister and I would go without eating at all. I was sick and tired of seeing my little brother and sister go without eating, so I felt I had no other choice than to find a way to make money. I became a prostitute just so I could make money to feed my family. Doing this made me feel disgusting and worthless.

At 16, I ran away from home. I never wanted to go back to where I was living. The house was filled with darkness and hate, and I refused to go back. After I ran away, I was found and placed in The House of the Good Shepherd. This opened a whole new world to me: I could sleep without being woken up; I was fed; I felt safe; I felt important. I started building relationships and was shocked at the help I was getting. I was not being ignored anymore, and my story was being heard!

The man who was molesting me for seven years of my life is now in prison and has been for two years. The woman who ignored what her husband was doing to me, now lives without her husband. I know I have a purpose in life. I have an education, a family and a home. Each day I am becoming better prepared for obstacles that life has in store for me, and because of The House, I know I have choices in handling them. I was meant to take this path.

Next month I will be 18 years old, and I am enrolled in a Bridge Program through Mohawk Valley Community College. Two years ago I would never have dreamed of going to college, or even graduating high school. I have learned the important steps I need to take in order to live a happy life. I would have never had the change to do this if I didn't get away from that bad situation and discover the life I was meant to lead at The House.