My Story: Traci McMartin

I have two children; Tyler is 7 and Grace is 6. I was in a relationship with their father for eight years. After I had our son, the physical abuse began and continued for the last three years of the relationship.

My children were getting caught in the crossfire and I didn’t know how I was ever going to get us out of the situation. Drugs were involved in our lifestyle, and in hindsight, they helped me tolerate the situation and only kept me in it longer.

Finally, through the help of a woman I was working for and my parents, we moved the kids and myself out of the house and into a shelter. Soon thereafter, we got our own place, and things were finally beginning to look up for us. Sadly, I was still dealing with him stalking us. I kept filing violations on protection orders, which finally landed him in jail.

While he was in jail for these violations, I received a visit from the DEA. They wanted to talk to me about what had been going on when I lived with my ex.  In short, we both wound up getting indicted on drug charges.

I served time in federal prison, where I also took a 500-hour treatment course. As my prison time was nearing an end, I was very worried about what my future held. My self-esteem was still suffering, and I didn’t know how I would find a job or be able to support my children.

I was released to a halfway house in Sioux Falls in August of 2010. One day, I was talking to my roommate at the halfway house while she was getting ready for her job. I asked her where she worked, and she said Goodwill. I asked if they were hiring, and she informed me she worked there through a program for people who have been in abusive situations. I shared with her that I had, and she suggested I talk to my counselor, and maybe I could get a referral.

I did exactly that, and was referred to Goodwill Industries Wall Street Mission. I began working at Goodwill, and this began the most positive thing I could have hoped for. I have never met such incredible people in my life. They built me up. They helped me to believe in myself again. They helped me to see that I have so much potential, and that I can do whatever I put my mind and heart to.

I have also been given a great opportunity from everyone within the Goodwill organization. I accompanied Betty Durfee to the Goodwill Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, this past April where I met with our congressional offices. I was able to be an advocate for Goodwill’s programs.

The whole experience was something that I will never forget, and it lit a fire in me. It filled me with passion to make a difference for others that have been through a similar situation.

I began college in August so that I can earn either a sociology or political science degree, and possibly move on to pre-law. I also plan to minor in drug and alcohol counseling. My goal and hope is to be able to lobby for the rights of women and children. I now know that I have a special, God-given gift to take and accept what I’ve been through and turn it into something positive, and make a difference in the lives of others.

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