Never too late to turn a life around
By Jacqueline Robinson - Staff Reporter
Latoya Moore has survived abuse, addiction and prostitution. She wants to tell students that despite your challenges you can still persevere towards your goals.
Moore, which is not her real name, has survived an unimaginable amount of sexual abuse, drug addiction, and life on the streets as well as mental and health disabilities as a result of these events.
"My mother didn't like me, I don't know exactly why," she said. "She would keep me for a while and then send me to live with a family member. After they got tired of me they would send me back. Then she would send me to someone else."
In the different houses Moore stayed at, she said she was sexually molested by various family members.
"It started when I was 6. A group of three cousins would take me up in a room and take turns with me," said Moore.
As the years went by Moore said other family members took advantage of her.
"When I got older, another group of cousins, my grandma's boyfriend, and many others molested me."
As this cycle of sexual abuse continued, Moore said she tried to reach out for help but suffered consequences for it.
"I went to social services and told a counselor what was happening," said Moore. "The counselor told my grandma and I got in trouble. Everyone was mad at me because social services were involved and no one wanted to lose their kids. I was forced to lie and say that I made everything up."
Another time, someone reported Moore's abuse.
"The man that I was babysitting for found out what was happening and he beat up [my grandma's boyfriend] and called the police on him," said Moore. "The social workers came and I was forced to lie again."
Moore said she became pregnant and gave birth to a little girl at age of 15 and started using drugs between the age of 16 and 17.
"How I got addicted was two of my cousins [that formerly molested her] would be cooking [crack] and they would let me hit it. I had two sons while on drugs," she said.
Moore said her family was not supporting her and she wanted to escape her situation.
"My mom did not want to help me," she said. "When I was 16 or 17 I found my dad. He was a pimp. He offered to help me and my daughter."
Her father, who was also on drugs, like so many other family members also tried to take advantage of her, she said.
"One night I woke up and he was on top of me," said Moore. "He said. 'I brought you into this world and I want to taste what I made.' I ran away and left his house."
Moore said her drug addiction turned her to a life on the streets.
"My mom took care of my kids," she said. "I was addicted to drugs and prostituting."
Her life took a drastic change when a drug transaction went wrong, she said.
"I had a Mexican boyfriend who was a drug dealer and we were going to make a [cocaine] drop," said Moore. "The police were coming so I put the balloon of drugs inside me. The balloon melted and the drugs got inside me."
Moore said that she almost died and was in a coma for a while.
"I had memory loss and I didn't know who I was. I also started having seizures," she said.
As drug use continued on and off, Moore said she tried to end her life.
"I tried to kill myself many times," she said. "One day I was in my apartment, I tried to slit my wrists and drink bleach. But I woke up that [Sunday] evening alive but still empty."
In search of healing, Moore said she went to the church her family attended after she woke up, only to find there was no evening services and the church was empty.
"I got on the No. 3 bus crying and the driver asked me what was wrong," said Moore. "I told him I went to the Lord's house and no one was home."
The driver took her to Zion United House of Prayer, she said.
"The pastor did a special prayer on me," said Moore. "And ever since then I been saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost."
Though Moore still had struggles, she said that with the help of the Lord she has been able to progress to a new life.
"I have been seeing a counselor at Seattle Mental Health for about 18 years, I have an apartment, I have a job at [as a clerk at a gas station]," she said. "And I tell people about Jesus every chance I get."
Moore has lingering effects of her rough life today, she said.
"I have epilepsy from drugs and post-traumatic stress disorder from the abuse. I also have bad memory loss that slows me down a lot," she said. "When I'm trying to get work done I forget things and have to start all over."
But Moore said she will continue working toward her dreams.
"I want to become a minister and a chemical dependency counselor because people today don't want to do their job, they just want to give people pills," said Moore.
She said she knows what it takes to be effective.
"Former addicts make the best counselors because they know what it takes to get clean and stay clean," she said.
At the age of 55, Moore, who is currently taking GED classes at Highline, said don't stop pushing.
"It took me a long time to get here and I'm not going to stop now," she said. "It's never too late to focus on your dreams and your education."