From Sharon Dutra

Here is part one of the story of Sharon Dutra, who made shipwreck of her life, and has now had her ship uprighted and is engaged, with her husband Michael, in a wonderful ministry to those who are in prisons.

   Sharon’s Story of New Life

We all have our “life stories”. Some turn out well, but many end in sadness and emptiness. I hope that you will take the time to listen to my story.

My name is Sharon, and I was born in Los Angeles, California. My father was an alcoholic and womanizer, and he was married 4 times by the time I was 17. My real mother left me when I was about 5 years old, and I never saw her again.       

Every time my dad would divorce, he would put me into foster care, only to pull me out when he would remarry. Subsequently, I was moved from foster home to foster home all of my growing up years. I started using drugs when I was 13. I believe that’s when I finally realized that I hated myself. Up until this time, I had been able to ignore my feelings of worthlessness, and block out my rejection and abandonment issues. But this increasing awareness only led me to run away from home when I was 15. I lived on the streets until I was arrested. And this began my life with the law.          

I ended up at Eastlake Juvenile Hall in Central Los Angeles, California. I was definitely the minority there, and a hot target for the ethnic groups, because I was a white girl with long blond hair. Those were the days when they didn’t separate criminals according to the severity of their crimes; murderers, thieves, and gang-bangers were in with those who had only run away from home. I gained a whole new understanding about hatred, racial tension, gangs, and fear.                                            

I would be sent back to that Juvenile Hall many times over the next few years. I was later transferred to Florence Crittenden, an open-placement girl’s home in East Los Angeles. “Open placement” just means that I was able to leave the grounds at will. It was against the rules, but there were no bars or walls.                                                    

During that time, I was transferring buses from West Los Angeles to Central Los Angles to East Los Angeles at night, unaware of the potential danger I was in. Pimps, predators, and gangsters abounded in those neighborhoods. I look back now and KNOW that God had His hand on my life.                                                                                                       

I was unable to stay in an open placement – I was too restless to stay anywhere for long. After I ran away from the East Los Angeles girl’s home for the third time, I was re-arrested and sent back to Juvenile Hall.

I was a ward of the court by now – my father and stepmother had divorced. Neither of them wanted me to live with them. So the court placed me in a closed facility in Central Los Angeles, called the Convent of the Good Shepherd. The neighborhood was so unsafe, we had to move our beds away from the windows on holidays, because gang members had shot through the windows in the past. The convent walls were 12 feet high. But I even ran away from there, climbing up onto the roof of the laundry building and crawling up the ivy to escape. There are many other stories in between these stories, all of which led to increased self-hatred. I was raped on several occasions, and my anger was overwhelming. My contempt and mistrust of authority, life, and people in general escalated. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was headed for absolute destruction.         

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