Jackie Turner (Nick Monacelli/News10)
ROCKLIN, Calif. - Jackie Turner wanted to rent a family for Christmas. She posted an ad on Craigslist offering $8 an hour for a mom and a dad.
"Just to sit, just to listen. just to cry with me, no strings beyond that," Turner said.
Turner is a 4.0 student on scholarship at William Jessup University. She seems like she has great life and everything is put together.
"On the outside, it looks like I'm the American dream kid," Turner said. "But I have a back story that most people wouldn't believe if they looked at me today."
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Jackie has been through a lot. Her past is riddled with physical, sexual and emotional abuse. She even spent time in jail for grand theft. Turner finally got the help she needed and is now thriving at William Jessup, but that doesn't mean her past doesn't hurt.
That's where her ad comes into play. But instead of renting a family, her story helped create one.
Recently a handful of people got together to share similar stories of child abuse - stories they were afraid to tell until they saw Turner's post and realized they weren't alone.
"Shortly after I turned 2, I began to get molested by my biological grandfather and various other family members," Emily Sherwood told the crowd.
When Sherwood turned 5 years old, her grandfather began raping her.
"Shortly after I turned 6, they turned it into a gambling game," Sherwood explained. "Whoever won the gambling game won an hour with me."
Sherwood's life got progressively worse. She told the crowd that she was eventually forced into child prostitution. She talked about how she was raped in bathrooms during parties. By the time Sherwood became a teenager, she didn't know there was a better life.
"I thought it was normal. I thought that's what life was, I thought this is what love meant," Sherwood explained. "I felt like I wasn't worthy enough to get anything besides this."
Sherwood's story was only the beginning. One, after another, after another, young women opened up with extreme candor. But that painful candor is the beginning of their healing process.
"Yes I was nervous, and I totally wanted to puke when I was up there, but it was worth it," Sherwood said.
When the crowd thought things couldn't get more candid, a pastor, who is a professor at Williams Jessup and Turner's favorite teacher, shared his story
"My father was a bible teacher and an engineer. He taught the scriptures on Sunday and did despicable things on Monday through Saturday," Pastor Dennis Nichols told the crowd.
"He called me into a room where he was naked; he covered his groin area with a towel," Nichols explained.
While it was difficult for Nichols to open up to the crowd, this story gave Turner and the others hope. If a pastor can work through his past, if he can flourish, so can they.
"It makes me happy because now they know they're not by themselves," Turner said. "And I too, I'm not by myself."
A lonely Craigslist ad with a plea for help became something Turner didn't foresee. Even though the turn out wasn't what she was hoping for, what it turned into, is exactly what Turner wanted.
"Mentors were found, mentees were found, people were talking, people were crying," Turner said. "This is just the beginning phase of people getting the help they need."
By Nick Monacelli, firstname.lastname@example.org