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Personal Recovery Story: Crystale Vega’s Journey

Issue 28

All the Dark Moments, All the Bright Moments

Crystale Vega’s Journey

I’m grateful,” says Crystale Vega, reflecting on her three years of sobriety. “I’m grateful to be a survivor of trafficking. I’m grateful for my recovery. I’m grateful to have overcome domestic violence. I’m thankful for all these experiences because they have enabled me to help others.” Throughout Crystale’s life, she has encountered adversity, but she has also discovered resilience and positivity, which continue to grow each day.

Released from jail in Lewiston in March 2020, Crystale had already achieved five months of sobriety. Her frequent incarcerations had previously been her only source of stability. However, she found solace at Sophia’s House, a gender-sensitive residential community focused on recovery. Sophia’s House offers healing through various means, including horticulture, nutritious meals, art, meaningful work, a supportive community, spirituality, therapy, and healthcare. It was during her stay there that something within Crystale “clicked,” providing her not just an escape route, but a path to genuine transformation.

The year 2020 brought significant changes for Crystale. She earned her associate’s degree, cleared her criminal debt, purchased a car, and regained her independence with new found strength and authenticity.

The following year, she successfully completed the program at Sophia’s House. During the graduation ceremony, attended by her son, boyfriend, and both parents, Crystale felt an overwhelming sense of pride and support, free from any hidden agendas. This moment served as a powerful affirmation that a new life was within reach, and she had authentic allies by her side. After graduation, she moved into an apartment in Sophia’s House’s permanent resident community and assumed a leadership role in the program—a “strange full circle,” as she describes it.

Throughout Crystale’s life, she has encountered adversity, but she has also discovered resilience and positivity, which continue to grow each day.

Due to her unique experiences, Crystale also serves on the board of Just Love Worldwide, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating sex trafficking and supporting survivors. Her life now bears little resemblance to her past, and she can scarcely believe the transformation at times. She shares, “Given how incredible things have become and how different my life is now, I often ask myself, ‘Is this really my life? Do I deserve all this? Is this really happening to me?’ But then I take a breath, and I realize that it is. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be here! That’s how I choose to perceive it. This is my opportunity.”

Crystale’s life is now intertwined with the women who contribute to the healing and support of others. Before her time at Sophia’s House, she had not experienced the care and camaraderie that women can provide for one another. Now, she witnesses the evidence of such support all around her. She gratefully acknowledges Klara Tammany, the founder of Sophia’s House, along with Tricia Grant, Jennifer Edwards, Jamie Richer, Sonya Turgen. This team, along with all the women who have passed through Sophia’s House, are cherished friends and extraordinary influences on her journey. She describes it as a beautiful experience.

Living within this empowering women-led recovery community, Crystale confronted her trauma and self-judgments, enabling her to heal from the inside out. As she became more honest with herself and those around her, her life began to change. “The more I worked on myself, the better my life became,” she affirms. “The more honest I was, the better things got. And now, honesty flows from me naturally, without me having to think about it!” She started to release the burden of self-judgment and embraced her own resilience, strength, and independence.

Once, stability came at the cost of sacrifice and punishment. Now, Crystale realizes that she can create stability for herself. Even more importantly, she can help others find it and build their confidence to maintain it. Crystale understands that stability brings possibilities, and healing comes through honesty. She now works as peer support for several local organizations — providing hope, help and support.

“I do everything possible to guide people in the right direction,” she says. “I can’t force anyone to take action, but I can offer a glimmer of hope, showing them that change is possible. It might not happen on the first or second attempt, and sometimes it takes several tries, but it will happen. There is hope for everyone.”

Crystale Vega is paving the way for more positive transformations to come.

Gabrielle Gilbert
Gabrielle Gilbert
Gabrielle Gilbert is an endlessly curious freelance writer, poet, and visual artist waking up in Southern Maine.

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