Born in West Philadelphia, twenty-six-year-old Candace was raised by drug-addicted parents and abused physically, sexually and emotionally at an early age. She began using drugs at fourteen, starting with marijuana. She became pregnant two years later and became involved in an abusive relationship with her daughter's father. Candace began using PCP to escape from his abuse and from the stress of being a teen mother. Although she was a straight-A student, Candace dropped out of high school during eleventh grade. She recalls:

"I began living on the street; I'd sell my body for drugs and food. When they thought of me, people would think of confrontation, negativity; I was someone they didn't want to be around. I felt like drugs were the only thing that made me feel good. I felt that people hated me.

In 2004, I left my daughter's father and went into my first drug program- for weed, Xanax, and PCP. I left there before completing the program. I'm a runner; when things get overwhelming for me, I run. I became homeless again, going from shelter to shelter. My addiction became bad. I was stealing and manipulating. I was raped and held at gunpoint; I was involved in criminal acts that could have got me put away for life. I was on a downward spiral; my mother took my daughter from me. I felt hopeless, like I wanted to die. There was no way out, I was constantly in hell. I wanted to run, but running stopped working after awhile. There was no place to run.

In 2008, after five months of smoking crack, I realized that if I didn't stop getting high, I'd get killed. It got scary. I was on the street, I didn't have responsibility for my daughter. I made a conscious decision that I was going to get myself together. I promised God that if He'd get me out of this situation one more time, I wouldn't come back, I would only move forward."

Candace sought help. She knew that she needed a long-term program, which led her to Interim House. Initially at Interim House, she just wanted to get clean. "I didn't think about changing my attitude and behaviors. During the first thirty days, I was up and down; I cried a lot, I was very confrontational. I didn't want to be told what to do; I wanted to do it my way. My therapist said that I needed to change. After two and a half months, I decided to change my attitudes. By four months, I wanted to become a better person, always stay clean, get my diploma, be a better mother, get my own house and have stability.

Interim House's evidence-supported treatment model for trauma survivors played a pivotal role in Candace's recovery. Interim House calls the program "SAGE". SAGE stands for Safety, Affect Management, Grieving and Emancipation and gives participants tools to overcome the effects of trauma. The goal of SAGE is to help individuals stay physically and emotionally safe and live a violence-free life, helping to break the cycles of trauma, abuse and addiction.

Her young life has been full of trauma, but at Interim House, Candace began to feel safe. 

"Being in my addiction, everything was a fifty-fifty chance; it was a Russian roulette with my life. With SAGE, there was breath of fresh air, I felt safe to go to sleep at night. I knew that when I woke up there will be something to eat, and that I could get positive guidance in the day. SAGE is about knowing your limits, what's safe behavior and unsafe behavior, making good, healthy decisions. I look back on my life and say, 'Wow there were times when I got so angry I could have hurt someone or myself.'

Before this I was unmangeable-everything was unmanageable. I learned that it's okay for me to feel how I feel, but not okay to act on all those feelings. It's unsafe for myself and others. It helped me be patient with daughter. I learned that I don't have to be abused; I thought that being abused was part of life and it was supposed to happen. The love that I got from the staff and my peers changed my whole way of thinking about relationships. In my addiction, I couldn't decide for myself, the drugs decided, they decided who I was going to talk to, where I'd go, what I'd do, who I'd do it with and when I was going to do it. But I'm allowed to make healthy decisions."

Currently, Candace studies at Lincoln Technical Institute to be a medical assistant. She expects to graduate in December. During her time at Interim House, she recieved her high school diploma and recently started a part-time job. She's also back to parenting her daughter, sharing custody with her mother. "I'm proud and I'm a true success story," Says Candace.