“I don’t want to feel pain and loneliness anymore.”


I saw her face light up and smile whenever she saw dogs. She would stop to pet them and give them a hug. “I love animals because they will never hurt you on purpose.” Growing up, she was repeatedly raped by her stepfather until she ran away from home at 11 years old. Her family didn’t report her missing so they can collect more money on welfare. She then got caught up in human trafficking and became a child prostitute until she became HIV positive at the age of 17. She became addicted to drugs so that she can forget about everything. “When I’m not on drugs I always feel depressed. I just don’t want to feel pain and loneliness anymore.”
As we walked down Broadway, I saw her eyes admire the clothes on the mannequins in the window. I grabbed her hand and took her inside one of the stores and said “I will buy you anything you want in this store.” She began to cry and at that moment, I saw a young child inside her who was hungry for love and yearning to be valued. We went through the store, as she excitedly picked out different outfits. She even modeled for me the new clothes she got. “What do you think?” she asked. And I answered; “Latoya, you make the clothes look good, because you were already beautiful through and through.”