Love and acceptance were missing from Charlie’s childhood, so she looked for them in all the wrong places. Her life of crime started at 14, and every man she ever cared about abused and beat her. Selling drugs led to addictions, and prostitution led to owning brothels. In trouble with the law and running from refuge to rehab, she’d finally had enough. But then she came face to face with mental illness and cancer.
Eventually Charlie found a true refuge in Jesus and a church with caring and supportive people.
For years I couldn’t bear dragging all this up. I just wanted to lock it all away, thinking this was not really me, it was just a nightmare … but here goes.
I’ve always felt my birth was a mistake.
I thought my mother resented me because she had me at 16 and was forced to get married.
My dad was a heavy drinker. I was always in the pubs with him, and was always told I was just like him.
Love and Sex
My memories of my parents’ relationship was of dad beating my mum up and forcing her to have sex with him. I would hear it all the time, as I was in the next bedroom. This taught me that love and sex did not go together.
On weekends I stayed with my grandparents and went to church on Sunday. I used to say prayers every night, but then I’d have to go home.
Love and Acceptance
My next door neighbors used to bully me on the way to school every day. They would lay in wait for me. I was terrified of them.
I started to look for love and acceptance in other places and got in with a very bad crowd.
At 13 I was smoking and drinking; At 14 I started taking drugs. Many times I collapsed in drunken blackouts in the streets and was picked up by the police or neighbors and taken home where my dad would beat me up.
I’ve lived a life of crime from the age of 14, been arrested and locked up many times. I learned how to lie, steal and cheat for a living.
Homeless and Beaten Down
At 16 I was pregnant and got thrown out. Now homeless, I went to live with my boyfriend’s family. Once there, his sister introduced me to prostitution.
My fellow was beating me up. So, I was put into my first refuge at 17. All the men in my life have beaten me up. I’ve been hospitalized many times for mistreatment. Even my probation officer used to touch me up and give me money while I was on probation for a total of eight years.
I went to another refuge and that started me moving around the country. I learned if I moved, I would not be found! After numerous moves, I settled down in Berkshire where I started selling drugs for a living.
Whilst there, I gave birth to my daughter. After another violent relationship, I ended up in a refuge again.
I started to abuse the refuge system, booking into any refuge to run away from each situation I could not handle.
Due to my vulnerability I ended back with the same fellow, thinking that was what love was, and then had another child with him. He beat me so badly, he ended up in jail. This gave me an opportunity to get away from him for good.
Soon after this, I had my first breakdown. I ended up in a mental hospital, was put on medication and quickly started seeing a new fellow. He was a dealer.
Now I went into fraud and started selling cocaine. One day I went with my fellow to score a large amount of drugs. He was stabbed and robbed, while I was left in the car. It was horrific.
Then we ended up putting what money we had left into opening my first brothel. Over the course of the next 20 years, I had about 25 brothels all around the country. You can imagine the stories I have from those days.
Eventually I split with the fellow and met a new one. He was on crack. Gradually I started smoking crack, and then he was killed in a police chase. I’ve always blamed myself for his death because I had kicked him out that same night.
This sent me spiraling down into the madness of my addiction. I started dancing with the devil in the grottiest pit of hell. Those days are too sick for me to even speak about.
I’ve lost some very dear people to crack. During my crack use I went blind twice on it, and was admitted to hospitals numerous times. During a six-day bender, my eldest son, then 16, started to help me run my brothel by answering the phones and collecting the money. My new fellow during this time was involved in cocaine smuggling and he murdered someone.
Continue to Page 2 of Charlie’s Refuge