Crystal went to a Christian college, where she had been awarded a scholarship for playing soccer. Like many of her peers, she would party and drink on weekends and after class. Unlike many of her peers, however, she was dating a boy who casually used meth and, eventually, she started using with him. By the time that relationship ended, Crystal was using the drug on her own and eventually began a new relationship with a guy who was hooked on heroin. He was especially abusive, and also was a gang member. At this point in her partying, Crystal had been kicked out of school and before long had nowhere of her own to live.
Looking back on this trajectory in her life, and on how her introduction to drugs and alcohol was preceded by her romantic relationships, Crystal makes a connection with her childhood experiences. “Growing up, “ she says, “my dad had been absent and alcoholic and so I always had a fixation with men, I always needed to be in a relationship. I would end up in unhealthy relationships, like this one, where he was so abusive. He stabbed me, he broke my face. He already had two strikes, and his mom finally called the police one day because of the abuse. She saw him attacking me and knew it had gone overboard. He went to jail, but he ended up bailing himself out and then he came and found me.”
Now living with her boyfriend, Crystal was subject to daily beatings that resulted from her boyfriend’s paranoia. She was growing desperate to escape the violence, and saw opportunity one day when he left her alone for an hour. She seized the opportunity to call her mother, and felt an urgency to move quickly. “I know it was God urging me to move fast,” she remembers. She waited until he was asleep that night and then she left, and her mother met her and picked her up, driving her straight to an outpatient treatment center. Crystal continued in her treatment but couldn’t shake the feeling that her old life was right around the corner – until one day she realized that it literally was. Staring at her from the foyer of her doctor’s office was her old boyfriend, who had been stalking her. He found her at her doctor’s office and attempted to convince her to leave and go back with him.
Crystal knew what would be in store for her if she were to return to her old life, and knew at this point that everything she’d been praying for – a renewed purpose in life, restoration, opportunity to move past her old life – could be found in the Serving California Redemptive Homes. “This is the first time that I ever obeyed the Holy Spirit,” she says, “and I called the bounty hunter on him.” Her boyfriend was taken into custody for the violence and stalking; he is now looking at 25 to life, and Crystal is going to go in and testify.
“The education I received in the home is the vessel that God used to teach me to forgive him. Now I understand what love is, and I’m working on being who Christ wants me to be and knowing who I am. I’ve been able to let go, knowing that I went through all of that so that now I can help somebody else, “ she concludes. She has finally found peace.