The Gift of Hope
When Jo reflects on her childhood, she sees a young girl who was once paralyzed by abuse. The hurt caused by someone whom she loved and trusted made Jo question her worth and identity – and even her life. But because of STARRY, Jo found hope and courage in the midst of despair and fear.
Jo had a stable childhood until a family upheaval resulted in her father gaining custody of her when she was in the first grade. The emotional strain took an overwhelming turn when it escalated to sexual abuse as she reached adolescence. At such a tender age, Jo couldn’t understand why her father abused her. She carried the secret burden alone and the constant guilt and shame she lived with led to years of depression.
As a young child, Jo wrote stories and played outside as a way to escape the suffering at home. As she got older, she became involved in dance and the color guard. Those things brought joy to her, but they were only a temporary fix. At the end of the day, she had to return home to a father who seemed to have no love for her.
The struggles, fear and isolation were suffocating, and she felt the only way to be free from those things was to put a complete stop to it. “I couldn’t connect with anyone on any level,” she shares. “No one in my circle could relate to what I was going through. I thought suicide would be the way to solve this problem. I thought that if I ended my life, all of the abuse wouldn’t exist anymore.”
After entrusting her secret to close friends, one had the courage to seek advice from their school nurse. Thankfully, a school nurse reported the abuse and introduced Jo to STARRY. “I found there were more options out there than ending my life. At STARRY, there were actual people who cared and could help me,” she says.
When she arrived at STARRY’s Emergency Shelter, Jo was met by staff who welcomed her with open arms. For the first time in years, Jo had a safe place to stay – she had a refuge from the abuse that she had suffered for so long. Jo received attention from a team of caring professionals who listened and helped her begin to heal from her past.
She knew that she needed to report the abuse to legal authorities, but the thought of reliving her past paralyzed Jo in fear. However, the encouragement and compassion of STARRY staff helped give Jo a voice. She found courage to share her story in hope that it would help others who suffered from abuse to know they aren’t alone.
”I finally had people in my life that helped me feel safe. STARRY was a place where I could be comforted,” she shares. “It was like a real family – we had dinner together and talked. It gave me a place to figure myself out.”
During her time at STARRY, Jo received counseling and other tools that helped rebuild her self-worth and confidence. She began to see that her life was a precious gift and that her future is full of hope and promising opportunities.
As the memories of her past begin to fade, Jo is experiencing the freedom that comes with healing and restoration. Through the rebuilding of her life, she has found the confidence to explore her talents and pursue promising opportunities. Jo now realizes that her life was made for something more and that she can be a beacon of light to others who are hurting.