Hooked on drugs, flat broke and the mother of a 1-year-old, Christa Lynn Hicks stole a family member’s car.
It saved her life.
A Trafficking Spiral
Christa and her sister spent time in their early years in hotels with “boyfriends,” and later, she would recognize the hotels were most likely sex trafficking sites. Christa’s mother, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, was drug-addicted and regularly trafficked by the time she was 17.
When Christa was a few years old, her mom married a man who shared her drug and alcohol problems. The family enjoyed relative stability despite the substance abuse, and Christa spent all her free time doing gymnastics. But when Christa was 12, her mother and stepfather divorced, and life began to fall apart.
A year later, Christa was raped for the first time by a boy from school.
Deeply traumatized, 14-year-old Christa became aggressive, and her mom began a cycle of kicking her out of the house. Having spent some time in juvenile programs and the homes of families who took her in, Christa met a trafficker who pretended to be her boyfriend.
“I can see today how he groomed me and isolated me,” Christa said.
She moved in with him, but found out too late it was the wrong choice.
“The day I got there, he took everything I owned.”
He forced her to work in a telemarketing office, where she didn’t receive a paycheck. She was exploited at parties. She doesn’t remember much.
“I think my brain fully shut down,” Christa said. “More happened than my brain can accept.”
After several months, Christa escaped by convincing the woman who drove her to the telemarketing office to drop her off at a payphone. She called for help.
“I was severely traumatized,” Christa said. She began smoking pot, taking pills and acid, and looking for safety in a dark world. “The best thing to do at that age was find guys who wouldn’t sell me — who would let me just be their girlfriend. I learned to be very strategic and very dead inside.”
When she was 18, she met the man who treated her well, but she was so broken inside that she ran from him and started using harder drugs like heroin, crystal meth and cocaine. Eventually she went back to him after spending time in California, in a trafficking warehouse for a short time, in jail, in rehabs that never worked, even being homeless for short periods.
Their final idea to save her? Motherhood.
“He just wanted to see me live,” Christa said. It’s a common idea in the drug world that having a child will make things better, and it worked — for a short time.
Today, Christa wholeheartedly knows firmly this was one of the most self-centered choices a mother can make. The child is the one who will carry the burden of this choice.
“When my daughter was less than a year old, I was bringing her into crack houses. I was shooting up dope and cocaine in front of her,” said Christa. “I was just dragging her along like my mom did to me, ready to start her life as a third generation trafficking victim.”
A Life-Changing Theft
Flat broke and desperate for drugs, Christa stole a family member’s car.
“Beautifully, they had me arrested,” Christa said, and her mother convinced Marisa’s father that he would save Christa’s life by not posting her bail.
Sitting in jail, coming off the drugs, she experienced a rude awakening.
“I thought, there’s no way that I’m going to be a mom that’s worth anything, and so there’s no point,” Christa said. “A few times in life, I have been the most hopeless, and that was one.”
Then she remembered a phrase she’d learned from a woman in California: “When life is out of control, you sit and repeat, over and over again, ‘Thy will, not mine be done.’ “
At the time, Christa hadn’t known who “Thy” was. Now, several years later, the words came back to her.
“It just clicked. I knew that ‘Thy’ must be God,” Christa said. “I cried out to God, ‘If you want this mess of a life, You can have it. Show me what to do and how to know You.’”
For the first time in her life, she saw her situation with a deep and sorrowful clarity.
“Repentance fell on me, and it was a gift from God. It was so sad, and so freeing,” Christa said. “I saw that everything had become about me surviving and overcoming pain. I just felt so sorry.”
Christa realized she had no idea how to make good choices, so she decided whatever she thought was a good choice was probably the opposite of what God wanted. It became a life-saving opposite game.
“That’s when I committed to say yes to God,” Christa said, a decision she has stood by ever since.
Christa heard the Gospel for the first time at a year-long rehab facility.
“I immediately wept and understood and said yes to it,” Christa remembered. She spent that year studying the Bible, getting to know Jesus, and replanting palm trees on an old palm tree farm.
A Renewed Story
Fully sober, devoted to God, and ready to live free from addiction, Christa returned to her hometown and to her daughter. The following years would not be easy. She worked hard with a counselor and a mentor to heal from the long-term scars of her childhood, trafficking and drug addiction.
Christa’s counselor had her write her trauma narrative and do a lot of deep, internal evaluation about what happened to her.
“Understanding my own story was so powerful. Before that, I always thought I was a drug addict, that I was born to be a junkie, and that was just the gist of my story,” Christa said. “After those counseling exercises and the writing, I began to really understand that trauma that was the base of my story.”
She joined a church, and over the next 17 years, she raised her daughter, working hard to reverse the cycle of her own childhood, and stood beside her daughter as she learned not to repeat her mother’s mistakes.
Christa went on to earn her BA in psychology and an MA in counseling, became a licensed therapist, and started Into the Jordan, an organization for adult women and children recovering from sex-trafficking. Now, she is the executive director of anti-trafficking at One More Child.
She Loves Out Loud
Join Christa Lynn and thousands of women around the country on Saturday, February 15, for She Loves Out Loud. They’ll be praying for triumph over trauma, peace over anger and forgiveness over bitterness.