Break the Wheel Diagnosed with Mental Illness
(Pictured: Bracelet given to Sam by her brother before she entered treatment)
Childhood and My Mother’s Manipulation
“I woke up sometime after, tied up with a revolver to my chest.”I grew up in Florida and am the oldest of three kids. I didn’t grow up in a stable home and my parents were always fighting; so much so, that my 10-year old self was actually happy when they told me they were getting divorced. However, after the divorce is when things really started to spiral. My sister and I were separated from my brother, who went to live with my father. My mother falsely accused my father of sexually abusing me, and made me believe that he had as well. Being only 10, I just believed what my mother was telling me without even understanding what it meant, and I’d go on to believe that for the next six years. She caused me to be afraid of my dad and to live with the emotional trauma of thinking I had lost my virginity to him. My father was well off financially and my mother was simply looking to get more money in her pocket every month. My father did win full custody of my brother, but she won full custody of my sister and I. We only got so see our brother and father every other weekend, which was difficult, but at the same time we were made to fear our father. My mother even convinced us that he had put cameras in our rooms so he could watch us change; we were completely scared of him growing up. The sexual abuse allegations came up in court, but he tried to hide it from me because he never thought my mother would actually tell my sister and I such things. He also didn’t know that she was telling me, on a daily basis, that I was a fuckup, fat, and ugly. I had never even thought that someone could kill themselves, but I remember not wanting to live anymore at twelve years old. My father was in the dark but he didn’t stop trying. He would call my sister and I every single day to tell me he loved me and ask me to please talk to him. He never gave up on me. We went through six different therapists in one year, because many therapists couldn’t handle our case. I had always earned straight A’s in school, participated in competitive horseback riding, and did karate with my dad. I channeled all of my energy into these activities to drown out the troubles at home. My mother would get money from my dad for my sister and I to compete in horseback riding, but she soon started telling me that, not only had my dad had stopped paying for me to compete, but that he stopped paying because, “He hates you Sam.” Of course, none of this was true, she was just pocketing the money for herself. Karate stopped as well and it just seemed like everything was slowly being taken away from me.
“They attempted to strangle me to death and drove 45 minutes away to dump my body in a field.”Because of my family issues and because I didn’t really have my dad in my life, I didn’t really know what a healthy relationship with a man should look like. When I was fourteen I got with my first boyfriend, Brad, who I was on and off with for four years. He was able to open my eyes to who my mother really was, but, at the same time, Brad himself was extremely abusive, both physically and mentally. He’d do things like slap me across the face in front of all of his friends and he introduced me to weed. One day while doing a school assignment on my mother’s computer, I found the court documents from the divorce. As I read them, I discovered for myself that the sexual abuse allegations against my dad were all false. Almost six years after the fact, I finally realized that my mother had been lying to me all that time. By that point I was using drugs recreationally on occasion, but this discovery was the tipping point for me and I began to use drugs to cope and to numb myself. I did begin to reach out to my father to try and figure out just what exactly was going on. My mother didn’t want that to happen, so she’d constantly check my cell phone. Because of this, I had to have a second cell phone which I kept hidden from my mother. I was 15 and I was living a double life. Things escalated to the point where I was in the kitchen one day with my mother and she pulled a kitchen knife on me, threatening my life. I was thankful at that moment that I knew self-defense, but I also didn’t want to hurt my own mother, so I packed my stuff and moved out. Despite all of that, I’m not resentful toward my mother and we still talk. I believe she suffers from borderline personality disorder, but it doesn’t change what happened, just as being resentful wouldn’t change what happened.
My Introduction to Oxycontin and Cocaine
“I had to step over the man’s lifeless body to get out of the room.”I went to live with my dad, and he was just so happy to have me back that he didn’t really provide any boundaries or structure while I was there. I just basically did what I wanted and we got along, but he was in denial over my drug use and partying. I managed to keep a lid on the partying and drug use pretty well up until my senior year of high school. That’s when things got really bad with Brad, and he introduced me to Oxycontin and Cocaine. It got really intense really fast, and I soon began snorting Oxycontin, Cocaine, and mixing them together. I’d go to my senior classes strung out on Cocaine, while Brad got into Xanax, which would cause him to turn into another person altogether, as if he had a dissociative personality. One night, we were watching the Notorious B.I.G. movie and Brad kept calling me Samantha Wallace, like in the movie. He then grabbed my keys and threw them under his bed. I immediately started to run for the door, but he grabbed my head and threw it against a wall and I blacked out. When I started to come-to, I felt his hands around my neck, choking me. God must have been there with me, because somehow I had the strength to fight him off and get out of there. I was going to the University of Central Florida in Orlando just three days later, so I broke it off with him and left.
I Moved Away, But My Troubles Followed Me… LiterallyOnce removed from my home environment, things got better and I stopped partying and doing drugs. It was a great six weeks, until I was walking through the cafeteria one day and there was Brad. He wasn’t enrolled in school or anything, he was just there stalking me, and probably had been for a few days. I lived in an apartment with three roommates at the time, but I had a private room that I always kept locked. One day I got home from school, went into my room, and Brad was sitting at my desk. He looked at me and said, “You are 15 minutes late from school.” I contacted authorities shortly after and they said there was nothing they could do about it. The trauma and anxiety started to come up again, so I starting smoking a lot of weed to suppress it.
Drugged, Raped, and Drugged and Raped Again
“Life was great. I was single, living by the beach, and had stopped dealing drugs.”I’d never before felt a need to use drugs. I used it to cope while in high school, but I never felt the craving for it until one morning, when I woke up with this intense craving for pills. I was stumbling, wobbling, and completely confused as to what was going on. I then noticed track marks in my hand and when I went to the bathroom there were bruises on my inner thighs and I was bleeding. Brad had drugged me and raped me in my sleep. The very next moment I was calling someone who knew where I could get some pills. I felt like I had no choice, because I woke up with an addiction. I woke up physically dependent on pills and could not function without them. Shortly after that, I went to a friend’s house to smoke some weed, and someone slipped something in my drink. I woke up sometime after, tied up with a revolver to my chest. In front of me was an open laptop with a consent on the screen of me agreeing to have sex with these three different guys. Just wanting to get out of there, I said, “At least it’s over and I don’t remember anything, I’ll be okay.” Then one of the guys said to me, “Oh no, I didn’t want you to miss out on anything.” I don’t know what drug they had given me, but my body physically couldn’t move, and was then gang raped by these three men while a fourth filmed it. I tried biting and kicking but there was nothing I could do, and I soon blacked out.
Left For DeadI woke up with my lips feeling extremely chapped and cracked. I looked up to see tall blades of grass above me and I could feel rocks beneath me. My keys were on my stomach and I noticed my car was parked next to me, but I had no idea where I was. As I came to, I realized there was bloody wire wrapped tight around my neck. They had attempted to strangle me to death and had driven 45 minutes away to dump my body in a field. I got into my car and, thankfully, found my phone still charged. It was 4:48 pm on Sunday. I had been lying unconscious in the field since Friday night. The three men who raped me were never caught. After that, I dropped out of school and started heavily using Cocaine and other drugs to escape the reality of what had happened to me. I didn’t even know what addiction was or that I had an addiction, I just knew there was something wrong, and I thought that something was just me.
Helped, Through Outpatient Treatment
“Things did start to look up and I met most of my goals within just six weeks after this happened. Life was great.”I was spending a lot of money on pills but I only ever stole anything once to fund my habit, and that was one of my dad’s computer monitors. I sold it for about $40 to get some pills and I still feel awful about that. Even though that was the only time I ever stole anything, my family began suspecting me of stealing things from the house. They eventually found out it wasn’t me, but this actually led to me finding help. I was confronted by my father’s friend, who was a cop, and he said to me, “There is a lot of stuff missing from the house, and they think it’s you,” at which point I explained that it couldn’t be me, because I had been in Orlando. The cop then said, “Is there anything else you need to tell us?” to which I broke down crying and said, “I think I have a pill problem, and I need help.” Nobody saw that coming. They were all expecting me to admit to robbery, but instead I confessed to being an addict. After that, I began outpatient treatment and did well for awhile. At the age of 21, I met Kevin. He was nowhere near as abusive as Brad, but he definitely wasn’t good for me. A lot of bad things started happening when we got together. Like, one night when I walking home after a bartending shift, a man chased me with a gun and tried to steal my money. I ended up dabbling in Cocaine and other drugs again with Kevin. I met a lot of his clients, so I ended up selling drugs to support my habit. Things didn’t last long with Kevin, but by the end I was selling 40 to 50 pounds of weed a month. I actually teamed up with an old best friend from high school. We’d party, use, and sell together. I was in cosmetology school and managed to continue to get good grades, despite this double life I was living, but it was getting exceedingly harder to manage.
Third Time Held At GunpointOn January 3rd, 2015, I was selling five pounds of weed to somebody. I knew the guy and trusted him, which is the only reason I was willing to do such a large transaction at one time. Once I had the $15,000 in my hand, two men broke in, and the next thing I knew, I had another gun to my head. This was the third time in my life that I had a gun pointed at me, so I wasn’t even scared. When the guy told me to give him the money, I just told him no. So then the other guy put his gun to my head as well. At that point I was scared, more because I thought one of them would freak out and accidentally squeeze the trigger. I dropped the money, put my hands up, and just kept calmly repeating, “Please don’t rape me, please don’t kill me.” I told myself, “If I live through this, I’ll stop dealing drugs, start my business, get my dream car, and do all the things I told myself I would.” You’d think that after surviving something like that, you’d get sober, but that wasn’t even my rock bottom.
“I thought we were going to a resort in Cancun. I was very wrong.”Things did start to look up and I met most of my goals within just six weeks after this happened. Life was great. I was single, living by the beach, and had stopped dealing drugs. I still used, but my drug use was minimal and very manageable. The drugs I was able to get at that time weren’t very pure anyway, so I just quit using anything but weed. Just a short time later, I met a guy who had the cleanest and purest Cocaine I’d had since I was 16, and once I had that, it was game on again. At first I’d only do Cocaine on Fridays, but that soon turned into an almost daily habit. Being in that scene again, it also didn’t take long until I was dealing again. I started to get extremely paranoid and the drug use, dealing and partying wasn’t fun anymore. Regardless, I’d make any excuse to use again. This continued for about a year. In 2017, I got a house and continued working on my business. I was still using and pretty paranoid, but I was able to manage it. My family didn’t want to accept the fact that I had a problem and I often played sick to get out of family gatherings. I was actually renting a room out in my house to my dealer and he had a friend named Jason, whom I’d had a crush on for a long time. I always thought he was really good looking, but he had this manipulative personality. He could easily make you think he was something he was not, which I believe was my downfall. Soon my dealer roommate moved out and Jason moved in. Jason was selling a lot of Cocaine and would often leave for days at a time, but he’d leave a bunch of Cocaine and tell me I could use however much I wanted. Up until then, I’d only been on an everyday binge once, back when I was sixteen, but now I was binging everyday to the point that the Cocaine had suppressed my appetite. I was practically living off the drug. It was getting really, really bad.
Cocaine in CaliforniaJason asked me to go to the Future concert with him in California. Turns out, he had a suspended license and was really just using me to get a ride and a rental. I ended up doing Cocaine almost the whole trip. He took me to one concert but then started leaving me in the hotel for hours on end while he took my rental car to go out with his friends. I’d be stuck there for hours in the hotel going out of mind while binging. When they were finally ready to leave, I’d been up for two days, but I was so wired that I was able to drive them from Sacramento to L.A., where I finally crashed from exhaustion. After that, Jason started being very rude to me and saying things to make me feel very insecure about myself. He never yelled at me or got violent, but he had a way of just making me feel awful. Our trip was supposed to end on the 18th of June, 2017, but then he asked me if I wanted to go to Mexico. I thought we were going to a resort in Cancun. I was very wrong. I talked to my father and he told me not to go to Mexico, but I thought he was messing around. I didn’t realize he was truly afraid for my life.
Sold to the Cartel in TijuanaWe ended up in Tijuana. Jason’s whole intention in going there was because you could purchase Promethazine for only 40 pesos, and he wanted to use it to create the drink called Lean, which is a drink made of Promethazine, Codeine-based cough syrup, Sprite, and Jolly Ranchers, also known as “Sizzurp” or “purple drank”. He could also get Xanax from the pharmacy, which was one of his favorite go-to drugs. Jason found a place for me to stay the night, which I can only describe as a hostel, though I’m not sure it could even be considered that. By this time most all my belongings had been stolen out of my rental car. Jason wanted to go get some Cocaine so he let me hold onto his phone, since mine was stolen. He left me in this hostel with a local Mexican guy I’d never met, who was smoking meth. I had never done meth, but because I was so afraid of falling asleep in this place, I did some meth just to stay awake.
“Homeland Security was at the house trying to figure out what to do”High on Meth, I soon lost track of both time and Jason’s phone, which he got very upset about once he got back. He kept saying, “Sam, you have my phone, where is it?” and when he realized I didn’t have it, he started accusing the Mexican guy. The man told Jason that he didn’t have the phone, but Jason thought he was lying so he started punching the man in the face. The man kept saying he didn’t know where the phone was, at which point Jason moved a dresser in front of the door to block anyone from entering. Jason then took a pair of scissors and started stabbing the poor man in the face. The man died and I had to watch him being murdered. Jason then turned to me and said, “Come on, let’s go.” I had to step over the man’s lifeless body to get out of the room. People must have heard the screams because soon there were men chasing us, a few of which had hammers in hand. Jason jumped to the next rooftop over to try and escape, leaving me behind, so I went down the stairs. The men caught up to me so I pleaded with them saying, “It wasn’t me, it was him.” They let me go and the police showed up. Jason and I met back up and he told to the police that the man had tried to rape me. The officers asked me if that was true and I played along because I was afraid Jason would kill me too, not to mention I was panicked and high on meth at the time. The cops just let us go after that. No further questioning, no investigation, no mention of the blood on Jason’s shirt. We had escaped the police but now we had no phones and no money, nothing but my rental car. That’s when a man named Freddy approached us and told us he could get us out of this situation. He gave us some Cocaine, I took another hit of Meth, and we started driving to a hotel with Freddy. I took a shower at the hotel and put back on the same clothes. I didn’t even have a change of clothes after our stuff was taken. I came out of the bathroom and Freddy said to me, “Jason would really like to watch you and I have sex.” I told him, “No he would not.” Then he said, “Don’t make this harder on yourself than it has to be.” I found out later that Freddy was a member of a drug cartel and that Jason had sold me to this cartel. Jason stood by as I was raped for the third time in my life. Jason was so lost in his addiction and broke that he didn’t care what happened to me, he just wanted to get money and more drugs. He stood by while Freddy raped me and he didn’t even flinch. He just wore a remorseless, stone-cold face the entire time. The next day, Freddy and Jason told me to call my father and ask him to wire money to me so I could get back across the border. I told my father that I was in California and that I needed money, but he immediately knew I was lying and that I had gone to Mexico. My father said, “I’ll take care of it, just get back home,” and he wired the money to a Western Union store. We showed up at the Western Union, I got the money, and when I turned around, Jason was gone. I never saw him again; never talked to him again. He left me captive as Freddy’s sex slave. That’s when I realized just how genuinely evil the world could be.
Escaping the CartelFreddy took me back to the hotel and continued to rape me. By that time I had just given up fighting back because I didn’t want to give him a reason to kill me any sooner than he had already planned. After a while, Freddy asked if he could get me any food. I said, “No, just get me drugs.” The drugs would help me stay awake, and I didn’t want him to slip something into my food that would make me pass out. He asked if I wanted to go anywhere, so I’d ask him to take me to places that had cameras, such as casinos. My plan was to not sleep, or eat, and eventually wear the guy out so I could make my escape. I refused to act like a captive, but instead partied with him, had sex with him, and played along. After a couple nights, he finally did fall asleep. I got my keys off him and ran. I was driving around with only 20 pesos on me and nearly out of gas. I pulled over at a police station and asked if they could help me find Jason. At that point I was still worried about him, trying to figure out what had happened and where he went. I found out I wasn’t even in Tijuana anymore. I don’t think I was far from Tijuana, but I still don’t know where I was. I got back in the car to keep driving and was soon sideswiped by another car, which made me run the rental into a wall. I managed to get the car to a mechanic shop and the mechanic showed immediate concern for me. Speaking English, he asked what had happened, but I couldn’t talk about it. I just told him that I needed to get home right away. He asked if I need to call anyone and allowed me to use his phone to call my dad. My father was astonished that I was still alive. He said that Jason was already back in the states that had said I’d been kidnapped in Mexico. When my father heard Jason say that, he literally fainted. He canceled all his appointments, couldn’t work, and had Homeland Security at the house trying to figure out what to do. I am so thankful for that mechanic. He told me that he understood, because he had a child, too. My father paid him $100 to take me to the border and I followed him there in my crashed rental. I believe an angel was looking after me, because this nice mechanic happened to speak English, and because the only thing that didn’t get stolen out of my car was my purse, which had my passport in it. I was waiting in line at the border for an hour and a half. I was falling asleep at the wheel since I’d been up for days at this point, and hit the car in front of me. I was going slow enough that I didn’t do any damage to the other car, but of course the driver was upset and it caused a scene, so the cops came over to ask for my registration and ID. They noticed how awful I looked and began to question me about what had happened. They had me step out of the car and put handcuffs on me. My dad had asked me to call him the moment I got across the border, but now I was detained and another six hours went by. I’m sure my father was worried sick the whole time, thinking I’d been taken again. I told the police that I had just escaped the cartel. They asked, “Are you drunk or on any substances?” I said, “No, I just did what I needed to do to survive and get back to the U.S.” They gave me a breathalyzer and apologized saying, “We just had to let you rest for a bit before, and now you are free to go.” I finally crossed into the U.S. and the next day I flew home.
Sobriety, One Day at a TimeAfter getting home, I entered rehab. I now have 90 days sober and I know that if I survived all of that, then I must be here for a greater purpose. For the first time in my life, I feel like I can be honest with myself and my family. Now I am just taking it one day at a time, going to meetings, talking to my sponsor everyday, and really just working on myself. I ask myself, “If my life were a book, would I want to read it through to the end?” I can say now that I truly would. I look forward to seeing how it plays out, and I believe I have a bright future ahead of me now. Speaking of books, Sam is currently working on writing a book which will expound on her story and include a lot that we had to leave out for this article. We’ll be sure to post here when that is available. I know we, at Brighton Recovery, are looking forward to it. You can read more recovery stories on our blog or watch people tell their own stories on our recovery podcast.