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Once a teenage runaway, a Sacramento woman shares spiritual journey to redemption

For Victoria Torres, it was a lifestyle she said could not last long. Torres had a spiritual experience that changed her life — when she found her faith.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — Victoria Torres was 16 years old when she ran away from home. It was 1999, and the start of what would be an extremely hard life full of drug abuse and toxic relationships and an absolute rock bottom.

"I was just really broken and feeling really desperate and really wanted some change,” Torres remembered. “I was just calling out for help because my family had given up on me. My friends had given up on me — or were in the same situation that I was. I ended up in a hotel room looking for a way to take my life."

This is a reality for a lot of runaway teens. According to the National Runaway Safeline, 80% of runaway and homeless girls report sexual or physical abuse, a startling number contrasted by the 34% of homeless runaways who reported sexual abuse and 43% of them reported physical abuse before leaving home.

And it doesn’t usually get better. The website also says that running away from home even one time decreases the likelihood that a kid will graduate from high school by 10%. The lack of an education decreases that youth’s chances at earning potential as an adult and could lead to a life of poverty and continue the cycle of homelessness.

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For Torres, that lifestyle could not last long, and, luckily, it didn’t. Torres had a spiritual experience that changed her life — when she found her faith.

"I really felt like [God] just picked me up and brought me to the program,” Torres said. “I just knew that God had done something in my life."

Though she avoided some of the other pitfalls others run into, Torres’ story is like many other runaways.

Torres got healthy, off the streets and got her life back thanks to the Overcomer’s Program at Calvary Christian Center, she said. But it doesn’t stop there — Torres said she also reconnected with the family that she left behind.

"God has definitely restored the family,” Torres explained. “I just had to go through some things. I don't regret it because it made me who I am today. I'm a more valuable daughter even because now I can love on my mom and my dad in a way that I can minister to them because before, the enemy just brought division."

If you or someone you know needs help with missing youth, there are resources for you.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Keristen Holmes.

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