My guest today, Lauri Burns grew up in turmoil and in an extremely physically abusive home. By her teenage years, she found herself spiraling down a road of drugs and dangerous behavior. By 19 years old, she was working the streets as a prostitute and addicted to heroine. Now 27 years sober, she has completely turned her life around and shares her story with us.
There’s an excerpt in her book, Punished For Purpose that I think really explains why she walked down the path she did as a youth;
“Although I never really thought about it at the time. The sensation of others touching my body had ceased had to mean anything, long before that night as a call girl. The separation began with the requirement to hug my dad after being beaten. Continued with that summer night many years ago in that dirty sleeping bag of the man that stole my innocence and stored his baby in my body. And became permanent the night my body reacted without my permission in that small Catalina bed. I would never again connect to with my body in any way that would leave me vulnerable. Being fully disconnected from it and having no other use for it, I would sell it to others in return for money, to numb the ongoing torment of the memories from my childhood and the horror of my existence. I surrounded myself with the people who saw something in me to counter the worthlessness I felt from within. Although it wasn’t a conscious thought, it was clear on many occasions that I derived a sense of self worth from the lowest forms of life. Not caring how corrupt they were, wether they were drug addicts, men cheating on their wives, or pure perverts, as long as someone still valued me, I was okay.’
After reading the excerpt, Lauri says, “That’s sad.” and explains, “Through writing the book, I processed things that I’d never thought about. I felt them when I was writing it, but not when I lived it.”
At just 3 years old, Lauri was physically abused by her father. It set her on a path of drug addiction and prostitution. Her first sexual experience was a rape. In fact, the majority of her sexual experiences as a prostitute were rapes. That made it very hard for her to be normal sexually. The heroine use was the catalyst that drew her into years of prostitution, starting at 18 years old. Lauri shares her lowest drug related moment, “When it became okay to let my daughter shoot up. When I started to bring her with me to the dealer’s house.”
She continues to talk about why and how she suppressed her pain through the drug use, prostitution and rape.
We discussed how her childhood almost set her up for her sad fate as a young woman. “I’ve learned through years of talking, that the people who judge me the most are people who are judging themselves for something similar to what I had been through.” Lauri grew up in a nice neighborhood with plenty of resources available to her. You wouldn’t picture a child of that social class to become a prostitute, to which Lauri says, “Abuse does not discriminate.”
It wasn’t until she was in group therapy that she “broke down” and shared her story which started her journey to healing. Now she tells her story in front of thousands of people. “Letting go of those secrets is just like a freedom and a blessing.”
After everything Lauri says, “I’m a stand for being a change while I’m here.”
For someone who is fresh out of rehab, Lauri says, “Go find someone in more pain than you are in. That’s where the freedom is.”
For those of you are going through trauma or pain, I think that all of her messages are so helpful and so healing. Remember, until you can find a way to share your secrets, you won’t be free.
Learn more about Lauri Burns and The Teen Project at TheTeenProject.com.
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