Almost 4 years ago, The NET’s Purchased team met Arletta. She is a true example of a Survivor Leader, and we love celebrating her story of strength and resilience. We originally met Arletta when she came into our partner program called RISE, Tarrant County’s Prostitution Intervention program, with over 20 arrests and 10 felonies under her belt. Although we may be able to say now that our advocacy and friendship through Purchased was a blessing for Arletta, joining the program wasn’t necessarily an easy choice for her. Four years ago her choices were to either join the program or serve serious prison time, meaning leaving her children, forfeiting watching her grandchildren grow up, and risking a high possibility of relapse. So Arletta made the “choice” to change her life and join the RISE program.
Arletta, however, was familiar with having a lack of choices. At a young age she was subjected to sexual abuse by the hands of those she trusted, which catapulted her into a reality that millions of women and children find themselves in every year: a reality of shame, fear, humiliation, anger, and a morphed view of what a healthy relationship should like. And like so many others, she sought to nurse the wounds of her childhood trauma through the arms of abusive men and the dependence on the numbing effects of drugs.
As a result of her experiences as a young girl, Arletta developed a distorted worldview and sense of self. She sought to numb her pain through the temporary fix of drugs and learned to use the only asset that others taught her had worth and value: her body. For the next two decades, Arletta would be enslaved to drug addiction and the world of prostitution. There she endured violence from boyfriends and “johns ” or customers, and society viewed her as a criminal, rather than a victim.
Thankfully, Judge Brent Carr and The NET do not share this same view; rather, we see how much women like Arletta need not only an opportunity for rehabilitation but also to be loved and cared for. Judge Carr created RISE to empower women to regain dignity and independence. Through our programs, Arletta got clean, received her high school diploma, obtained her own housing, and reconciled with her children. Today she is 4 years sober and just recently graduated! Arletta has lead as an example of hard work and determination. She has a servant heart and has been a light, not only to other women in the program, but to others in the community. She has bravely shared her story as a way to advocate for other survivors and to change society’s perspective on the sexual exploitation of women.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion therefore I will wait for him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24
Written by Jordan Hall & Melissa Ice