Karla’s story begins in another state, with the wrong crowd, at the bad end of a corrupt business deal. Out of money, and out of options, she agreed to help on the administrative side of the sex industry, not realizing she was being lured into a brutally abusive relationship, constantly drugged, sold, and beaten to ensure her captivity.
Two months of hell led to an escape attempt, but blackmail in the form of a picture of her daughter caused her to return willingly, not wanting her family harmed in anyway. She was at the end of her rope, locked in a hotel bathroom, beaten from head to toe, when she fumbled through her purse and found a cross necklace that had belonged to her daughter. With the cross in hand, she prayed a simple prayer, “I can’t do this anymore.”
Three days later, the police located her using a cell phone tracing service, delivering her straight to the hospital where they determined extensive physical trauma, multiple infections, and broken ribs.
While serving 5 months in jail for an 8 year old warrant, she read the Bible from front to back, and began attending Bible study. She had surrendered her life and story to Jesus, but she wasn’t ready to share the painful details just yet.
Her family relocated to the Hill Country where, too petrified to leave her house, she reached out to Victim Services for school supplies and clothing for her children.
This is where Mercy Gate enters
Although the ministry donated anonymously, Karla became so moved by the generosity of total strangers, she asked to meet whoever had donated the goods. “I just wanted to say thank you,” she said. “I couldn’t believe how much they gave to my children.” Mercy Gate had not known the extent of her trauma, but knowing some of her background arranged for transportation and covered the charge for her to attend a class for victims of domestic abuse. “They came with me and stayed by my side the whole time,” Karla said.
A friendship began, a voice in Karla’s life that cared for her, and checked in, even catching her off-guard in a vulnerable moment. “I thought she had a camera in my room,” Karla said, referencing the moment she had considered taking her own life. “I was just terrified, of anything and everything.” But, this was the conversation she began to open up and share her story. “It was like the weight of the fear lifted,” Karla remembers. “I went to work waiting tables the next day, and made $130 in four hours!”
God was blessing her bravery in extravagant ways. Armed with a new job, and a new friend, an opportunity for safer housing opened up, but they couldn’t afford the deposit. “They just put the check in my hand,” she remembers, crying at the gesture. “Everything changed after that.” Mercy Gate has walked alongside Karla for years now, and are amazed at what God has done in her life. She rarely misses a church service, and is often in the front row with her children.
When asked what God is doing in her life right now, she answered with, “The unimaginable! The unthinkable! More than I could ask or imagine.” She often cries when she talks about the goodness of God. “My kids don’t even remember me being gone, it’s like it never happened. They are doing incredible. God has restored my marriage. I never knew how much my husband loved me until I saw him go to the ends of the earth to bring me home.”
Karla was willing to re-live the gruesome details of her story because she wants to be a resource for the ministry, she wants to see others delivered from the lifestyle of trafficking. “I don’t like when people call me a victim,” she says, “I’m a survivor.”