Teresa was born in Mexico into a large family. Her mother struggled to raise her and her 9 siblings. Two of her siblings have since passed away. Tragedy struck Teresa at an early age. “At four years old I was raped. I can’t share who it was, but it was someone who was a part of my family. This went on until I was 16 years old.”
Teresa moved to the U.S. when she was 17 years old and has worked for the past 23 years doing sewing. She got married in 2011 and tragedy struck again. “My husband started abusing me. He kept telling me I had no worth as a woman. He would hit me, choke me, he would do it in front of other people, including our son. Every day he would insult me.”
One day, Teresa opened up with her therapist about her abusive husband. “She made me write a list of pros and cons of staying with him. The list of cons was much longer than the list of pros. She helped me realize that my husband did not love me.”
Teresa’s therapist helped her find a shelter in Long Beach, but the shelter would only let her stay for a week. One of the clinics she visited gave her a resource directory where she found the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission. “I called the rescue mission and they took me in. I was nervous. The person who did my intake interview at the mission was a sweetheart. She gave me the peace I needed and reassured me that she was going to advocate for me.”
Teresa’s 7 year old son, Miguel has a disease that makes the body produce tumors in his arms and legs. “Every day his bones hurt. He has had this since he was born and has to go to the hospital often. The doctors have said that he will have to suffer with pain for the rest of his life,” said Teresa.
Miguel has adjusted well to life at the mission. “He gets along with the other kids. He was scared of them at first, but now he shares his toys and looks forward to playtime,” says Teresa. “He is becoming more independent too. Before he was so dependent upon me, now he says, ‘No mom, I can do it. I am big enough now.’”
Teresa is focusing on getting work and stable housing. “I know how to work. I have been working since I was 11 years old. My mom taught me to work at an early age,” she said. “One day I went to L.A. to try to find work. I was able to get work, but it was only $20 for the day. Sewing doesn’t pay much nowadays.” Teresa lamented.
Through all the heartbreak and tragedy Teresa has endured, she still sees God’s hand at work in her life. “One day I had to take my son to the Children’s Hospital. I was at the bus stop and I was crying because I didn’t have any money for the bus. There was a man at the bus stop that told me, ‘Don’t cry. You’ll be okay.’ And he gave me the money for my bus fare. For me, that was God using him to help me. I now feel a stronger connection with God and I feel God in my life. I thank God because I have a roof over my head and I have food to eat. I thank God every day for the opportunity to be here at the mission.”
Teresa has plans to get an education and become a social worker. She knows this dream would not be possible if it weren’t for your support. “Thank you so much. I pray that God repays it back to you for the opportunity you have given me to become more independent,” says Teresa.