Audrey was 14 when she first sold herself to survive.
“I never knew my dad, and my mom was not able to care for me and my little brother,” she says. “My mom had a severe drug and alcohol problem, and there were always different men coming in and out of her life. For her, it was never about caring for her kids.”
And so, at 14, with a hungry little brother depending on her, Audrey felt the need to get money for food and made the gut-wrenching decision to engage in commercial sex.
From age 14 to 19, Audrey engaged in survival sex, moving from house to house and shelter to shelter. “I didn’t have a home, so selling myself was a survival mechanism,” she says. “I felt alone in the world, like I had no choices. I look back now and wish that 21 year-old-Audrey could talk to 15-year-old Audrey and tell her there is hope … but back then I felt no hope.”
Audrey suffered extreme violence at the hands of johns on many occasions – she remembers being beaten by two johns and thrown out of a car when they were done with her. After five years of living a nightmare, Audrey was about to give up.
“I was 19, on the streets, so tired and hungry. All I had in the world was a small bag of dirty clothes and a cracked cell phone. A lady came up to me and asked me if I needed help. And for some reason, I finally said yes.
“This stranger looked up shelters on her phone for me and found Covenant House. She even paid for my subway ride. She saved my life. And when I walked into Covenant House, things began to change.”
At Covenant House, Audrey found stability, and the love she had never felt as a child. Slowly she worked with us, and although there were many setbacks from all the trauma she endured, she has survived and is now thriving.
Audrey is 21 now, living in another state, a college student taking psychology. “I want to help others, especially kids with no parents,” she says.