From trauma to caregiver

Taylor and dogAt age 24, Taylor had recently relocated from North Carolina.

“I came to California in the middle of March of 2018 to escape from being pimped out and sex trafficking,” says Taylor.

One of the horrors of sex trafficking is that traffickers often coerce the people they traffic into drug addiction in order to control them.

“I was a heroin addict for five years,” says Taylor, who went to rehab in Raleigh. It was there that she met a couple named Kelly and Pete who worked with an organization called 5 Sparrows, whose goal is to “practically demonstrate love, mercy, and justice to those scarred by human trafficking.”

Taylor credits Kelly and Pete for rescuing her from trafficking.

Having overcome that hurdle, Taylor was now facing being in an unfamiliar place, lack of reliable transportation and a criminal record resulting from trafficking charges. She connected with GenerateHope, a local organization offering survivors of sex trafficking a safe place to “heal and find restoration in long-term housing and trauma-informed therapy, education and vocational support.”

An animal lover, Taylor wanted to become a veterinary assistant. Taylor found out at a job fair that MiraCosta College’s Technology Career Institute (TCI) offered a certificate-granting program in this field, and staff there and her GenerateHope case manager referred her to Interfaith Community Services’ Transitional Youth Academy (TYA), which funded the vet assistant program, paying for books, supplies and transportation.

“Being in the life is isolated,” Taylor says. “I didn’t know how to talk to anyone; I wasn’t allowed to have friends. I didn’t learn to communicate with people, look for a job, how to create a resume…”

Of GenerateHope, Taylor says “It’s the best thing that’s happened to me; it changed my life.”

Since connecting with GenerateHope, Taylor has been seeing a therapist and psychiatrist and was diagnosed with severe PTSD, anxiety and depression.

Taylor describes still having trouble being social and that she’s more of an introvert, but that she’s begun “having male friends again and may decide to date again.”

“I’m working on boundaries,” says Taylor.

Taylor has also gotten close to her family again, whom she hadn’t seen in two years, and even joined them on vacation to attend a family wedding.

Taylor began the veterinary assistant training program in September 2018 and went on to complete a paid internship at VCA Animal Hospital, consistently receiving positive progress reports from instructors.

Taylor’s internship supervisor says she is “very professional and always takes initiative.” Her final progress report stated Taylor had “consistently shown the ability to establish an excellent rapport with coworkers…she is always interested in helping and is exceptionally responsible.”

Thanks to the internship, Taylor was able to put her classroom training to the test and receive the required on-the-job training hours necessary to receive her credential, receiving her veterinary assistant certificate from MiraCosta TCI in late December 2018.

Since then, she has moved to the next stage of services with GenerateHope. Taylor is currently in transitional housing, with the goal of eventually getting into independent housing. She is using this time to save money and is giving herself a few months to look for her own housing.

Taylor now has her own car and has secured steady employment as an animal caregiver with Camp Diego and is enrolled in Mesa College working towards her associate degree with the long-term goal of transferring to UC Davis for their veterinary science program.

Besides being an animal caregiver, Taylor is a self-described bookworm and nerd, and loves to draw and paint landscapes.

Regarding her future, Taylor says she feels “nervous, excited and happy.”

Her advice for others who have experienced hardships: “Don’t give up. There are going to be obstacles that you encounter. God doesn’t put anything in your path that you can’t handle. And whatever He puts there will make you stronger. Keep your eyes on your prize.” 

Interfaith Community Services is funded in part by the San Diego Workforce Partnership. For additional resources for survivors of CSEC (commercial sexual exploitation of children) and human trafficking, visit sdyouthservices.org/what_we_do/services/trafficking_awareness_recovery/csec_human-trafficking_resources.