Rebecca was born HIV-positive with so many drugs in her systems that doctors told her she should have died.
“They told me I was a miracle baby. But for a long time, my life didn’t feel like a miracle.”
Rebecca was taken away from her mom and placed into the foster care system, where she was in and out of different homes until she was adopted by a single mom. In her new home, life was good for a short time. Then, her foster mom got remarried. Her new husband was a heavy drinker and quickly turned violent and abusive.
“I was scared all the time. I never felt safe. I couldn’t take the abuse, but I had no way to leave.”
But because of a series of health crises through her teenage years and early 20s – including a cancer diagnosis – Rebecca was dependent on her adopted family and had no way to get out.
Finally, at age 23, she packed a bag and snuck out of the house.
Rebecca left to find sanctuary with her sister, but soon found herself in a similar cycle of abuse and manipulation. Her sister would verbally abuse her, steal Rebecca’s money, and eventually talked her into marrying a man Rebecca barely knew – or even liked.
“All of the stress made me want to never rely on anyone ever again.”
Once again, Rebecca snuck out – afraid of what would happen if she told anyone she was leaving.
She lived with various friends, shelters, and on the streets, doing what she could to get by. Finally, one night while sleeping in a park, a woman told her about N Street Village.
“I came to N Street Village in 2018. I started going to the Day Center. They helped me find housing at Miriam’s House, where I live with other women who are HIV-positive.”
Rebecca is proud to have her own apartment and with the help of N Street Village staff, she has gone back to school and earned her degree – with honors. Through the Village’s MARJ & MAK Vocational Center, she is earning her Food Handler License with Together We Bake, a local empowerment-based job training program for women.
“Today, I am just trying to learn as much as possible. I finally have the chance to dream big and see things happen for myself.”