My name is Kori and I have a very unique story to tell.

I was born in Long Beach, California in 1974. Grew up in a suburban town called Lakewood with 2 sisters and a brother and parents that stayed married until I was 23. We were a highly dysfunctional family with lots of yelling and physical violence. I did anything to escape the reality that was my childhood. Picked up cigarettes at 14, marijuana at 15, and methamphetamines at 18. I was instantly hooked on meth. Wanted it all the time.

During this period of my life, I was running away and hanging with a bad crowd. One night I suffered a “date rape” by someone I knew, the girl I was with told me to just take it like the guy really must like me. This incident made me hate sex. Made me feel worthless and like an object. I was also sexually assaulted on multiple occasions by a member of my church. He was supposed to be helping me get back on my feet and he used me for his own amusement instead.

The sexual abuse continued well into my relationship with the final abuser. The absolute torture and degradation that he put me through has scarred me considerably. I know that I have a body dysmorphia that I suffer over the years of sexual abuse I suffered at multiple hands.

After 6 months of stealing from my family to get high I asked my parents to help me get clean. I immediately immersed myself in church and that is where I met my future husband. I was married with a son on the way by 20 years old and had my daughter 11 months after my son was born. My marriage lasted about 5 years before it disintegrated.

After my divorce was final, I was reintroduced to the meth lifestyle by a friend and neighbor. Within 12 months, I had given up custody of my children to their father, lost my job and been evicted from my apartment. No one wanted to help me. I tried off and on holding down jobs and places to live, but I always went back to the meth and always ending losing everything all over again. One day I just up and left everyone and everything that I knew and took off to the streets of Long Beach. I met some drug dealers and got hooked up doing some petty theft and minor crimes to keep up with my habit. I lived from couch to couch, park to beach for over 5 yrs. Getting caught with drugs by the cops over and over, in and out of the LB jail.

This life was perpetuated by my need to forget everything bad that I had done, especially abandoning my children. That’s why I kept getting high, to forget.

I ended up in an extremely abusive relationship with a man who supported me and my drug habit but beat me at least twice a week. He liked to choke me until I would pass out and then he would revive me only to repeat that process over and over. Laughing all the while. He was not the only abuser I had suffered at the hands of, but he was absolutely the worst.

He would force me to go into homes and steal, and would threaten me if I ever said “no”. One night he had beaten me so bad that I lay in the back of my van sobbing and crying out to God for help. It was literally the first time I had prayed to God in years, but I was desperate and didn’t have any other options. I prayed for hours, “Please help me out of this life. I don’t know how to help myself. I don’t want this life anymore. Help me!!” I eventually cried myself to sleep.

The next night my boyfriend forced me to go out with him, I fought it, but eventually conceded. We walked a couple of blocks together and then he went off on his own and told me I had better come up good. I turned around and made a beeline for our vehicle parked a block away and within 1 minute of walking a cop pulled over. He searched me and found a small amount of meth and took me in. That was the beginning of my new beginning.

I thought it was going to be another overnighter in jail, thought I would be out in a couple of days, but that was not what was going on. I went to court and the judge took one look at me and one look at my record and ordered me to prison for 2 yrs. I was devastated…PRISON?!!!! There was no way I could handle prison for 2 WHOLE YEARS!! It took me about 2 days to process through that reality and then, it finally dawned on me…. GOD WAS ANSWERING MY PRAYERS!! I was getting exactly what I had asked for. A WAY OUT! Now, I just had to not mess it up.

I went to prison with the idea that this was my one shot at a new life. I was going to be diligent in my recovery and was going to spend my time enriching my life and getting involved in as many positive things as was allowed. I was in the Forestry division for the firefighting section of prison, and for the last 90 days I was in the substance abuse program. I completed that program and continued it outside of prison in a residential treatment facility for an additional 6 months.

I graduated that program with my children back in my life, my family restored and with a hope that I cannot describe. Since then I have been diagnosed with and treated for stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. I am currently cancer free and happy. I work hard for my life and I am blessed beyond words. The biggest blessing is that I am currently in my 8th year of sobriety, my children are in my daily life and I have a very loving and supportive mate. I realize that my life is based on my choices, and as long as I choose sobriety and gratitude I can’t go wrong. Life shows up all the time to remind me that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but if we persevere and lead with love and not fear, we can accomplish our dreams!!

Thank you,

Kori Kolstad