Recently, it was World Day Against Sex Trafficking.

I knew I had to somehow speak out.

I have been hesitant to write, but I feel that my story has a purpose, and if I can help just one person, I am willing to make myself uncomfortable if it means helping. Also being a mommy to four precious little boys takes up every moment of my days. 

It’s late tonight, but here I am.

This is vulnerable. 

This is raw.

This is uncomfortable.

This is a trigger. 

This is lengthy. 

But stick with me till the end, because there is HOPE. 

I was four years old the very first time I heard the word “sex.”

My mom was at work and her boyfriend watched me for her. He had a degree and worked as a nurse at the local hospital. He was hardworking with his job, he sang karaoke at the local bar, and his charismatic nature swept everyone off of their feet. Not to mention he was handsome which deceived many that blindly followed.

I suppose my mother trusted him within those factors and felt safe considering we were living in a nice little single-wide trailer beside her parents’ property. So my grandparents were right next door and naturally, I felt safe too.

Until that one day my innocence would never return.

It doesn’t take much for life to change in an instant.

One word.

One action.

One convincing conversation can change the course of a little girl’s life.

He sat on the couch and he asked me to sit on the floor beside him. I remember feeling weird and confused as to why he wanted me to sit there. But I did it anyway. Maybe it made him feel an even greater sense of superiority?

In that moment, he began telling me how sex worked. He went into vivid detail.

I knew at the tiny age of four that something was very wrong. Although I didn’t understand what he was talking about, I knew that it made me very uncomfortable.

Later that day, he grabbed me in his arms and with tears in his eyes carried me across the yard to my grandparents’ house and left me with them.

I can still remember the way the rain smelled as it hit his black leather jacket.

I don’t know why he was crying.

I don’t remember it all.

But somehow I felt empathy for him.

My time with him was very short and blurry.

In my heart, I feel like something happened but my memory is so hazy. My mind is blurred and I personally believe that in God’s love and mercy, He has spared me the full memory of that time.

RELATED: Abusers Stole My Childhood But Love Owns My Future

A few years ago, learned that he was sentenced to life in prison for storing uncountable videos and photos of horrible sexual acts that had been done to children. Some included photos of random toddlers at the beach with their mothers with the camera zoomed in on their private areas. (Parents, GUARD your children. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.) He had also served a long time in jail for rape prior to being sentenced to life. Thankfully, justice was served, but it can still never erase the trauma that was inflicted upon those precious souls.

I pray those children somehow have peace today. I pray for their healing.

The next year I would be five, and getting ready to be a kindergartner. Most kids are getting excited to meet new friends and are usually stressing if they have the coolest cartoon character backpack. As for me, I was carrying a heavy load of shame that weighed me down far greater than any backpack ever could.

See just that summer I had gone with my mom to her friend’s house that had a lot of kids.

One day while our moms were talking we were in the next bedroom and I discovered they were highly educated on this new word I had learned, “sex.” I’m not sure where they got all of their info but they didn’t hesitate not only talking with me about it, but they showed me everything with their bodies.

I’m not really sure where the adults were but we had most of the days and nights to ourselves because the older siblings who were teens were there, too.

It felt like hours upon hours of torture.

I couldn’t stand to be unclothed for that long.

I just wanted to leave that what felt like a haunted house.

They were only a few years older than me, and although we were young kids . . . 

I felt bullied.

I felt violated.

I felt sick.

I felt ashamed.

I felt afraid.

Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that the spirit of Satan would love nothing more than to destroy anyone he can get his hands on.

He will use any situation to rob us.

He will use our shame to turn us away from God.

I didn’t want to tell my mom what had happened.

I didn’t want to talk to God. But I knew he had seen.

I surely thought I would be in trouble if I told.

RELATED: 7 Tips For Talking With Your Kids About Sexual Abuse

I hate to give the devil any glory but whoever planted that seed of fear in my little heart and mind sure did a profound job.

If fear is in it, then satan is in it.

There were times my grandma on my dad’s side would keep me.

My parents were divorced and she knew I stayed at a lot of their friends’ houses, so out of her love and concern for me we had a lot of healthy and needed conversations.

In her best way, she cautioned me that it was NOT OK for anyone to ever put their hands on my body. She would tell me that MY body was MINE. No one else’s.

If only she knew it was too late.

She made me promise to tell her if anyone were to ever try.

She even caught me off guard and asked me one day.

“Amber, has anyone ever touched you?”

Oh, how I wanted to tell her.

I wanted this nightmare of guilt and condemnation to end.

But I wasn’t strong enough.

So I lied to her.

“No Grandma.” Then I’d change the subject swiftly to avoid the racing in my heart.

So for years, I carried the weight of that summer like an elephant on my chest.

I lost all my joy.

At the age of 10, I was nearly kidnapped.

My friend, who was 14 at the time, was with me and my dad. We were eating at a restaurant and, of course, this was before cell phones and YouTube where you can demand Siri or Alexa to find your favorite song, and in a hurry.

My dad was waiting for the waitress to give him his change so he could leave a tip, and we begged him to go to the car so we could listen to the radio. He was parked near the front door so he agreed and we hugged him with excitement praying we would catch *NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys. We weren’t picky.

We hadn’t been sitting there long and there came a man knocking on my door.

He asked me to roll down my window and kept saying he knew my aunt. She said it was OK for me to talk to him. I almost fell for his plan, but something held my hand back. He tried to get his hand through the cracks of my window.

So I tried so hard to ignore him.

I just kept locking the door over and over and eventually, he went and sat down in his car which was parked right next to ours.

He kept talking to me from his window begging me to get in the car with him.

I was shaking in fear. So I panicked and didn’t think it through. When he was quiet and not looking, I ran as fast as I could out of the car and into the front door of the restaurant.

I ran to my dad and told him everything.

My poor friend was still in the car (I’m sorry for leaving her) but I knew I had to get help.

My dad came outside and to keep this story very short, let’s just say he knocked the guy’s lights out and the police came and put that evil man in jail.

My dad also went to jail for disturbing the peace at the parking lot of a business.

But hey, he saved my LIFE. He spent one night in jail for me. But It’s a story of my rescue!

I sometimes think, what if I would have gotten in the car with that man?

Would I have been kidnapped?

Would I be alive?

Would I have been raped?

Let’s fast forward to age 13.

I was in the 8th grade sitting in math class. I went to the hall to get a sip of water and a 7th grade teacher was walking by. He told me I was so beautiful and asked me if I’d like to be his model. I could come by his house and take pictures. He made it sound so convincing. What he didn’t know was that it was my dream to be a model. But once again something in my heart knew it sounded fishy. He said he was a photographer for children.

I told him I’d let him know and so I went back to class. That night at supper I told my grandma what had happened. She insisted that I tell my teacher. So I did. Then the principal got involved. Next thing I know the police are at my home and I had to give three different forms of my story. Written, verbal, and recorded. I was traumatized. I even felt bad, thinking maybe this guy really wasn’t bad after all. Maybe he was telling me the truth. It was all too much for me to absorb. I began to think I had made a mistake.

But not long after that night, he went through much investigation. The police informed my grandma he had been fired from his job as a teacher at my school and he had been guilty of attempting to lure other children into his home. He was not a “professional” photographer like he had expressed. I won’t go into greater detail for privacy purposes.

Ages 14 and 15, I was harassed by my boyfriend daily and pressured into many bad situations. (If you’d like to read that story of how I kept the bracelet he gave to me in remembrance of where God has brought me from, click here.)

There is so much more that has happened to me. So many have tried to rip away at my innocence. So many disappointments. So many close calls. God has protected me in so many ways. I have saved those stories in my autobiography that is in the process of being edited and published. 2020 has thrown a few setbacks at the process but that is OK. I am still moving forward with it and will get my book into the hands of people who need to read it as soon as I am able to.

What happened to me is WRONG.

It should never happen to children.

We live in a fallen world.

RELATED: Tragedy Changes You But it Doesn’t Have to Ruin You

It BREAKS my heart that children carry this weight.

If you are a parent please, please have healthy conversations with them about safety.

For heaven’s sake don’t give them a cell phone until they are driving. Aapps have hidden pedophiles that can lure them away, too.

Please choose who they are around WISELY.

And then the sad truth is you still can’t trust everyone.

Pray over them.

Ask for God’s protection over them.

I have never been bought or trafficked.

I have never been kidnapped.

I have never been sold to another country for another’s sexual gain.

I’d like to imagine we have shared the same symptoms though.

Grief.

Trauma.

Hopelessness.

Robbed.

Disappointed.

I speak of my own life.

My own story, in hopes to prevent it from happening to someone else. Even if it’s one life.

One life is valuable.

It’s even more valuable to the ONE who created it, and the ONE who died for it!

His name is Jesus.

I have been redeemed.

I have been made new.

I have been through a lot, but somehow made it through!

I have a beautiful life now.

A WONDERFUL husband. A family!

If you have been a victim of any form of sexual abuse or trafficking, can I tell you there is healing?

If you are afraid to speak out please don’t be.

There are people who love you and would protect you with every fiber in them!

If you struggle with the trauma of yesterday I won’t promise you it’ll be easy, but there is freedom!

It’s a journey, my friend.

I’m still healing.

I’m still growing.

I’m still learning.

It’s OK to cry.

It’s OK to grieve what was lost.

It’s OK to share with others.

That’s where we also find healing and we learn that we are NOT alone.

It’s OK to let Jesus hold you.

Invite Him in.

He won’t force himself upon you.

He’s a gentleman.

He won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do.

But he lets you give him PERMISSION to hold you.

One more thing—I used to be bitter about my story.

I was angry that it happened.

But I had to forgive others.

I had to let go of what I thought my life was supposed to be like.

Forgiveness is what frees us.

Forgive those who hurt you. Forgive yourself for the shame. Forgive God if you have any bad feelings for him not stopping it.

If this can help anyone please share my story.

Please if you suspect anything, rescue them.

Always listen to your gut.

Love heals.

Originally published on Rubies From Ruins

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Amber Adcock

Hello! I’m Amber Adcock. A writer, aspiring author, wife to my best friend, and mama to four amazing boys! I want to encourage women who are in the trenches of motherhood and help those who especially have had childhood trauma to heal from it. 

We’ll Get Through Daddy’s Deployment Together

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother, father, daughter selfie, color photo

“I didn’t think we did that anymore.” I wish I could attribute that to one person, but I’ve heard it from multiple people when I’ve mentioned that my pilot-soldier National Guard husband is deploying overseas. Yes, we still do that. Men and women still suit up every day to carry out various missions, both valuable and confusing, around the country and the world. And for the whole of 2023 that includes my husband. My partner, my co-adventurer. The one who will use our flight and hotel benefits from his day job to visit Hawaii for three days on a pre-deployment...

Keep Reading

I Was Never Good Enough for My Mother, So I’m Done Trying

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman walking away

I’m on a path in life that is so different from what I ever imagined growing up. It’s a path I’m not even sure I consciously choose. And it’s a path that exhausts me. I grew up with a narcissistic mother, and I was the scapegoat. No matter how I tried, I could never gain my mother’s love. It was love that was tainted with conditions and taken away at any time—and that was often. And thus, I tried harder. Best grades, best behavior, cleanest room. It never worked. I was too fat. My thighs were huge—make sure they were...

Keep Reading

I Am an Immigrant Mom

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and toddler in sunshine

I have many moments of What did I get myself into? during the day, especially when one of my kids is screaming at the top of his lungs and the other is having a make-believe experiment in the kitchen. We’ve heard countless times that raising kids is hard, but raising kids as a first-generation immigrant is harder. Obviously, there is no competition for who has more struggles or whose life is harder because child rearing is hard. Period. But this piece is specifically aimed at shedding some light on the unsung heroes, our so-called, first-gen immigrants raising kids in a...

Keep Reading

The Emotional Cost of Teaching Can Be Too Much

In: Living
Empty classroom desks and white board

“Do you ever regret leaving education?” I send this text to multiple former colleagues.  I feel a pain in my heart and tears swelling in my eyes. To be honest, I’ve thought about writing this multiple times but have always pulled back due to second-guessing myself. My goal as you read this is to not ask for sympathy but rather to be honest with you—and actually myself—in hopes that this time, I realize it is my time to go. RELATED: Want to Know Why Teachers Are Leaving Education? It’s Because We’re Exhausted Thirteen years ago, I proudly walked across the...

Keep Reading

I Went No-Contact With My Toxic Mom: Here’s What It’s Like

In: Living
Toddler girl looking out over mountains, color photo

Two and a half years ago, with tears in my eyes, an ache in my heart, and an eight-month pregnant belly, I walked off my mother’s porch for good, and I never looked back.  The month after I left was probably one of the most chaotic times of my life. My husband quit his job, I packed my house up into a 14-foot cargo trailer, moved into a new home that I bought online, then drove 2,100 miles to it with my husband and our 18-month-old daughter. I immediately hired a brand new OB-GYN and had my C-section birth alone...

Keep Reading

This Is Not a Drill: Ted Lasso Season 3 Is Almost Here!

In: Living
Ted Lasso Coach Nate Apple TV+ still shot

Confession: Ted Lasso didn’t interest me at all.  Soccer is not my thing. I live in the kind of Midwestern state where soccer is code for “I’m either freezing on the sidelines watching my kid play in 40mph winds and snow, or sweating so much I’m sticking to a camping chair in 100-degree heat, there is no in-between.” It’s just a fact of life for us.  So when the Apple TV+ series first crossed my radar, I skipped it. Who cares about soccer (nee, fútbol for our European pals)? Then my husband and I needed a new series to watch...

Keep Reading

There Are a Lot of Families Simply Trying to Get By

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman buying eggs

Times are tough right now. If you’ve been to a grocery store lately, or a gas station, or anywhere really, I’m sure your wallet is feeling it. I know mine is. My family falls somewhere between low and middle income—like so many families around the world.  We’re just on that line where we don’t qualify for assistance, yet we also don’t quite make enough to comfortably pay bills and have much leftover for anything else. And, boy, are we feeling it lately with prices the way they are. We stretch our food and our budget as far as possible, but...

Keep Reading

Hey Girl! Chrissy Teigen and John Legend Welcome Rainbow Baby, Esti Maxine

In: News
Luna and Miles holding their new baby sister

UPDATE: Hey girl, hey! We finally have the details on the new addition: Welcome to the world, Miss Esti Maxine Stephens! This rainbow baby is already clearly adored, which was apparent in the debut photo Teigen shared of her being cradled by her older siblings. According to her Instagram caption, Daddy John Legend “sheds nightly tears of joy seeing Luna and Miles so full of love.” Teigen also apparently gave birth for the first time via C-section, which she shared with the realization she still has to wear diapers. She says “the house is bustling and our family could not...

Keep Reading

Jamie Lee Curtis Goes Viral as “Unabashed Hype Woman,” and We Are Here for It

In: News
photo of Jamie Lee Curtis celebrating Michelle Yeoh

“Ladies, this is your vibe for 2023. Hype. Other. Women.” A rally cry for women all over the world started at the Golden Globes on Tuesday, when Erin Gallagher captured the moment that actress Michelle Yeoh won best actress for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once.  Instead of focusing on Yeoh, who covered her face in her hands, the entrepreneur zoned in on the reaction of co-star Jamie Lee Curtis, who threw her hands in the air and let out what appeared to be an excited scream for her co-star. “Look at Jamie Lee Curtis,” Gallagher wrote in...

Keep Reading

Being a Daycare Mom Can Be So Hard

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Woman holding boy on couch, black-and-white photo

Dear daycare mom,  I know it’s hard.  To get yourself up before them, to make lunches, to pack the bags, to get yourself ready.  To go into their rooms, where they are peacefully sleeping, and turn the lights on.  To struggle to get them breakfast, get them dressed, and get them out the door.  I know it’s hard.  To have a morning rush when all you want to do is snuggle up on the couch and ease into your day.  RELATED: When a Mom is Late To Work To feel like you are missing out on their childhood at times...

Keep Reading