“Men raped me as my body tried to disappear from the deep burning pain, but there was nowhere to go. I wished desperately that this were a nightmare, but without knowing the real names of my pimps, I understood the gravity of my situation. I was a slave once again.”
Jessa says that she felt “numb,” and full of nothing but “shameful pain.” She says she turned the anger she felt toward these men into hatred toward herself.
“I hated the fact that the abuse and trafficking I suffered growing up made me so vulnerable to more abuse and pain. I hated the fact that I trusted someone to help me when I was all alone in a new city. I hated the ways that I longed for safety and for someone to care. And most of all, at that moment, I hated the fact that I was still alive and that I had survived my childhood.”
Unbelievably, Jessa escaped slavery a second time.
She was able to return to the same safe house in Colorado, and with the help of a select few people who had earned her trust, and genuinely cared about her future, Jessa is a completely new person today.
The director of the safe house (and the same woman who originally approached Jessa in 2009) knew that they had to do something to keep her from having to go back to Canada.
She told Jessa that if she enrolled in college, she’d be allowed to stay in the states.
“When the director at the safe house suggested that I enroll in college, I laughed in her face. I thought she was crazy. How could I go to college if I have never had an education growing up? How could I succeed if I had never written a paper in my life and didn’t know how to do simple math problems? In response I was simply told, ‘If you can read, you can learn anything.’ I wrote that phrase on my arm with a black Sharpie every day for over a year.”
After getting her GED, Jessa was accepted into college—something she never dreamed could be possible for someone like her. In 2013, she received the Colorado Authors’ League Scholarship, and she managed to finish college with a 4.0 GPA.
“Last May, when I stood in front of my graduating class to deliver the valedictorian speech, the Sharpie story and many other stories flashed through my mind, including my first day of school when I sat on the parking lot and cried because I was convinced people would shun me if they knew about my past and the things I had been forced to do. Miracles not only happen, but after trauma it is possible to dream again and live life fully.”
Jessa graduated with a BA in Christian counseling and is currently working to get her Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She hopes to get a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology where she’d like to specialize in trauma recovery.
In addition to the academic achievements and incredible strides she’s made in finding freedom, Jessa met the man of her dreams, and the two got married in Colorado last year.
“It’s been a long journey, but through God’s redeeming love, safe people believing in me when I couldn’t believe in myself, and through people choosing to be in my life for the long haul and walking the messy road of healing by my side—I have changed. My past no longer has the power to hold me captive. I am an overcomer, I am a wife, I am a student, I am a professional, I am a speaker, I am an author, I am leader, I am an agent of change, and I am a confident woman who longs to make a difference in society.”
Jessa is currently raising money for her furthered education. Visit her Go Fund Me Page for more information.