Times have been hard for me. My father began molesting me before I was four and it went on for eight years. I didn’t know my mom till I was 11 and even then she was strung out on meth. I started doing drugs at 12, and drinking with my dad even younger than that. I needed to escape. Soon enough I was an addict and I got into a fight that resulted in assault charges. It is difficult to admit but I became so depressed that I tried to commit suicide on many occasions. I was in a very dark place.
I had been in several residential programs and in psychiatric care. I had to turn my life around. I knew what I needed to do but I needed a push. I found treatment and counseling—and a home–at the White Shield Center in Portland, Oregon.
Now I’m 17 and clean and sober. I made up 14 credits in nine months and I’m graduating high school a year early. I’ll be getting my EMT training at community college and I have enlisted in the Coast Guard. I have learned about positive relationships and I am rebuilding a relationship with my mother after many years of not having her in my life. My father went to prison for what he did.
Sometimes I wonder where my life would have been without treatment. I have people outside of family if I need support, help or clear perspective.
I like the White Shield Center and the structure it provides helps me so I stay on track. No one wants to be in a program like this at first, but when you accomplish your goals and look back on it you can see what a big difference it makes. Now as I’m about to graduate, go to college and get a place of my own I see how it has changed my life.
Note: Ashley is pictured third from the right, next to actress Gabrielle Union at The National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women Conference