Angelina Molina is no stranger to struggle. She grew up in a gang affiliated family, surrounded often by violence and chaos. She had to learn to take care of herself and be incredibly strong at a very young age.

Wanting to get away from that life and ready to blaze a new trail for herself, Angelina went through the process to become legally emancipated at age 17. Looking for love, safety, and acceptance, Angelina became romantically involved with her psychologist. Early on in their relationship, he sexually assaulted her. She says he would regularly physically abuse her as well. Ultimately, she ended up getting pregnant.

“I’ve been through a lot of things and now that I’m processing, I didn’t think it was a problem then,” Angelina explains. “Just tucked them under because I had to emancipate and I wanted to work in the office- I wanted to achieve those goals so I thought by tucking those things under the carpet that that was the best thing to do because I had to move on.”

Angelina began experiencing homelessness off and on in 2018. At that time, she was with a very physically abusive partner. During one of their worst blowouts he broke her ribs. Because of the abuse and violence in their home, her two youngest children were taken away from her. Angelina was so traumatized from the abuse and so heartbroken after losing custody of her children that she tried to kill herself. Then, she spiraled further downward and started using drugs.

“I’m very against drugs because of my family background but, I don’t know, it was a crazy time and I know it crushed everyone.”

After that, things got worse for Angelina. She was lured into one of the parks on the streets of Santa Ana and abused by many men- physically and sexually. She shared that she would see this happen to many other women alone on the streets. Unfortunately, the worst and most traumatic experience she had on the street came soon after, in that very park. She was raped and though she was nearly 40 at the time, she became pregnant as a result of the rape.

“That was the most devastating thing I’ve ever been through.”

Her getting pregnant from the abuse didn’t stop it from happening again and again and again.

“My collar bone was broken and my jaw was fractured because they continued to try to rape me, even when I was pregnant with him,” Angelina shares while gesturing to her now 1-year-old son Sebastian.

Getting pregnant with Sebastian changed everything for Angelina. She says he made her want to heal and have a better life. She says she finally felt motivated to live the life she deserved.

“I’m so attached to him. I’m gonna do everything in my power that I can for him because he deserves it.”

In 2018, Angelina found temporary housing through City Net, then she heard about H.I.S. House (developed and continually renovated by HomeAid OC) through a friend of hers who was staying in H.I.S. House at the time. Angelina gave birth to Sebastian, went through the interview process to get into H.I.S. House, and was accepted in. It was then that she started the healing and growth process.

“I love this place. This is not like a program, this is like my home.”

Today, Angelina has completed the H.I.S. House program and she lives in a place of her own. She is continuing to go to therapy to work through the trauma she has experienced and she’s working for the County of Orange as an Administrative Assistant.

“I’m living today. And it’s not just like the surface like work and car…I didn’t think these things would come true. I’m out of the (homelessness) loophole. Praise God on that,” Angelina says with tears in her eyes. “Now I want to move on but I don’t want to tuck it under the carpet. I want to heal for once…When I look in the mirror I know who I am. I love myself.”