I was born to a military father and a housewife at West Point Military Academy. We relocated to California when I was 3 years old. Living in drug and gang infested South Central, and because of my father’s battle with drug addiction, I was traumatized by my environment. By the time I was in the 2nd grade I had been constantly physically abused by the hands of my mother and sexually abused by the hands of my uncle for years. At the age of 12 I had the courage to tell my mother about the sexual abuse, which was swept under the rug. Feeling neglected and beaten down I ran away from home shortly after the ’92 LA riots. That was the first night that I was trafficked.

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I was a victim of human trafficking from the age of 12-18. After being brutally beaten by my exploiter, I had had enough. I always knew that my life was worth much more because I had dreams and I knew I could accomplish them if given the chance. At the age of 18, I left the state of California to separate myself from all the things that had lead me in to a life of trauma. I lived in Chicago and that’s when I began my process of healing and self-reflection. In Chicago I had my first run at starting and operating a successful business.

I returned to California at the age of 33 without any clear direction of where my life was headed. There I met a woman, who would soon become my mentor. Here name is Karen Wyatt-Coleman and soon after we met I shared my life story with her. She referred me to a director of a group home that was in search of a survivor that was willing to share her story. This was ironic for me because about 20 years prior I had been a client of that same group home.

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I am currently mentoring and co-facilitating groups at the home and that is where I have found my calling. Soon after, Miss Karen told me about Two Wings and gave me Elena’s contact information. I was enrolled in the program 3 days later. Since being in the Qualified program and meeting phenomenal people affiliated with the program, I have begun to put the pieces of my life’s puzzle into realistic and obtainable goals. My vision is to marry my passion of entrepreneurship and my calling of mentoring into a lucrative and rewarding business; both for profit and for non-profit. Even though my life isn’t the life that I had originally envisioned I can see good things are within arm’s reach.

-Tika T.