Solitary Confinement Quenches Thirst For Acceptance
As a child, Dawn was the girl who felt like she never fit in.
“I always wanted people to like me. I thought that my looks were the only thing that I had going for me. I had very low self-worth, very low self-esteem,” Dawn says.
Her parents divorced when she was young. Dawn knew that they loved her, but with her mom working two jobs, Dawn was on her own much of the time.
She explains, “There was an absence of motivation and affection. I had a void inside me to fit in. I began to look for that affection and that love in all the wrong places.”
Dawn started getting into fights and chasing boys. At 14, she met her high school sweetheart, and they began using and selling drugs.
Dawn says she was, “trying to please people, trying to fit in. Wanting people to like me. Always feeling like I was different, but when I was doing drugs and selling drugs, you know, people liked me and they wanted to be around me because they wanted what I had.”
At 17, Dawn married and had a baby. Then just two years later, her husband was killed in a car accident.
“I was devastated. I felt like that I had lost the love of my life,” Dawn says. “I was mad at God; I was mad at the world, and my life began to spiral out of control. My drug addiction got a lot worse. And I just really didn’t know how to help the pain that I was feeling at the time.”
In the years that followed, Dawn went through several marriages. She also started working in strip clubs and for escort services.
She says, “I would latch onto whoever and whatever I could just to make me feel like somebody cared about me. And it just led me, you know, from hurt after hurt after hurt. And just, you know, time after time of getting in cars with men that would abuse me and beat me and break my jaw, break my nose. I was so hopeless.”
Over the years Dawn was in and out of jail, often homeless, and always looking for a fix.
She recalls, “My drug addiction had gotten so out of control that I couldn’t go 15 minutes without having a needle in my arm or smoking crack.”
She felt that she was beyond even God’s help.
“I had thought all through my life…that Jesus was like this Abraham Lincoln guy sitting in this big chair with a list of things I did wrong,” she explains. “I just never felt like that I could ever measure up to be somebody that God would love.”
But then at 40 years old, after 26 years of addiction, she realized God was the only one who could help.
Dawn remembers, “I was just crying out to God in the middle of the night, living in an abandoned house with no electricity and water. God put it on my heart to go to a church here in Daytona and they had a homeless outreach. And they gave me a shower, clean clothes. They fed me breakfast. And they did a Bible study. And when the pastor preached his message and he did an altar call, I ran to the altar with a crack pipe in my hand. And just cried out to God, I’m sick and tired of living this life. And the pastor’s wife came down and she prayed over me. I went back to the street but something had changed in me. And, you know, I knew there was a glimmer of hope in my life that day but I didn’t know how to keep it.”
Two weeks later, Dawn was arrested. Kicking and screaming as she was taken into jail, she was put in a straitjacket and sent to solitary confinement.
She says, “I knew that I needed Jesus more than I had ever needed Him before in my life. He just poured His love, you know, in my broken places and I began to surrender. I began to surrender my mind, you know, my will and, you know, my emotions to Him. I cried out and I said everything that I am and everything that I have I’ll give to You. I saw Him as a Father with His arms open wide. And He was running to me. And um, as He held me and caressed me and He told me how much He loved me, He told me I was His favorite.”
When Dawn was released from solitary confinement, she began to study the Bible. As she served her 1-year prison sentence, she grew in her faith and never craved drugs again.
She says, “When He gave me a new perspective of life, I began to have my eyes on Him. And, you know, I knew that I had worth because He loved me.”
After her release in 2007, Dawn enrolled in Bible college and went on to earn her PhD. She has rebuilt relationships with all of her children. As an evangelist and counselor, she ministers to women in prison.
Dawn says, “Therefore if anyone be in Christ, she’s a new creation. The old things have passed away and all things become new. And that really changed my identity by knowing that, you know, even though I was once a prostitute, that He had washed me clean. And no longer did I have to live that lifestyle, but my worth now was from Him.”