After years of living in abusive environments and dealing with the negative consequences associated with those experiences, Rachel Hill feels she is finally on the road to recovery.
Rachel grew up in Las Vegas, NM. Between the ages of five and eight she was repeatedly sexually abused by a family friend. Yet her recollections of her childhood are happy. Her memories include playing tennis, building bikes and rollerblading with her older sister and younger brother. It wasn’t until she was 11 when her mother raised some difficult questions regarding a family friend that Rachel realized her childhood was anything but “normal.” This realization threw Rachel into a downward spiral and led to a difficult and rebellious adolescence.
At the age of 14, Rachel was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began exhibiting signs of PTSD. She was unable to engage in healthy relationships and was burdened by her paranoia and trust issues. Feelings of hopelessness, shame and despair led to poor decisions and pain.
Rachel felt that she didn’t fit in during her high school years. “I was the weird kid,” Rachel reflects. Although she enjoyed few friends, Rachel found joy at school. She took pleasure in learning and earned A’s and B’s in her classes. Rachel was accepted to Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, NM. Here she began a life on the edge. Drug and alcohol use became a focal point in her life. Rachel soon earned a reputation within the Portales Law Enforcement Community, and she sat prominently on their radar. Eventually the university expelled her for possession of alcohol.
At the age of 18, Rachel was incarcerated for minor drug violations and possession of drug paraphernalia. While in the courtroom posting bond, a guard was extremely hostile to her. He threw her back in a chair and Rachel admittedly responded badly. She grabbed his hands and bit him. Her reactionary behavior led her back to county jail and she was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.
Rachel served three months in the county jail, and for the next six years she bounced between jail and living on the streets. “My lifestyle caught up with me and I was incarcerated for close to a year. At this time I decided to change my path,” says Rachel. She realized that the sexual abuse she had experienced seriously traumatized her. “It practically ruined my life. I was depressed and hurting. The trauma that I experienced at such a young age confused me, and I didn’t feel worthy of a living a happy life so I tried to trash it with crime and drugs. I pretended that I was creating a fulfilling life.”
Eventually Rachel grew disenchanted with jail and drugs and chose to begin the difficult journey to recovery. With a case worker’s recommendation, Rachel was released to Maya’s Place, a program of Crossroads for Women. Rachel recognized that this supportive program was a very positive step to a successful life, but she wasn’t ready for the commitment. In 2009, Rachel fell in love and embarked on a destructive, violent marriage. The only positive result of this union was Rachel’s five-year-old daughter, Zia.
In 2014, Rachel encountered the last brutal episode in the marriage that ultimately saved her life. Rachel’s husband attacked her violently. For a brief moment, Rachel felt like succumbing to his anger. She was exhausted and felt she didn’t have the strength to fight back. At that moment her daughter walked into the room, and her motherly instinct kicked in. Rachel fought back until her husband released her. She escaped and called the police. The police were able to retrieve Zia and returned her to Rachel. Zia was eventually placed in the custody of New Mexico’s Child Youth and Family Services Department.
Rachel had reached a major crossroads in her life. She vowed that she would never return to that horrific situation. She had lost her marriage, her daughter, her job, and her car, but gained her self-confidence and her will to change her life.
In July 2015, Rachel was accepted into Crossroads for Women’s permanent supportive housing program, The Crossroads. She is grateful for the second chance to be enrolled in a “very special program” and has been working hard for the last two years to achieve and maintain her life goals.
Her goals included:
- Obtain Housing
- Complete DWI probation
- Get custody of her daughter and close the CYFD case
- Secure an interlock driver’s license
- Continue her quest for mental and physical health.
Rachel is proud to share that she lives in a beautiful two bedroom house with her daughter. After completing her DWI probation and securing an interlock driver’s license, she enjoys the benefits that her own method of transportation can provide. Rachel and Zia attend therapy together where they address their history, their present and their hopes for the future. Rachel feels good about her life: “I’m kicking ass meeting my goals. I’m on a good roll.”
When asked what is the most significant thing that propelled her toward recovery, Rachel responds: “My daughter. She forces me to think beyond myself.” Rachel adds that she feels living in secure housing is the most important ingredient in her journey to sobriety and recovery.
She emphasizes the significance of eliminating the pain and stress of homelessness through the housing provided by Crossroads for Women. Stable housing allows one to control her environment and ultimately her life. In addition to her daughter and her housing, Rachel is quick to mention that the continued, loving support of her family and the Crossroads staff has aided in her new life. Rachel reflects, “It’s been a long journey, and I look forward to learning as much as I can as I continue to go forward.”
Rachel’s goals for the future are to continue to grow and heal through therapy, persist in life-long learning, and above all, “Be a good mom.” Rachel is truly ascending on the road to recovery.
Written by Jo Jennings West