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Helen’s Scars

The extraordinary confessions of a young woman’s battle with abuse, drug addiction and prostitution

A Memoir

Smashwords Edition


Helen’s Scar Copyright © 2017 Johanna Sparrow & H. Smith

All rights reserved. Polished in the United States of America. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means., graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the publisher.



I would like to thank, God for what he’s done for me in my life as well as my mother and father.



No Love from The Streets

A Life of Drugs

The Smell of Death

My Crazy Normal Life

Drowning in Helen

My Transformation

Finding the Will to Forgive

Mercy and Grace

What I Learned


Thank you, Helen for allowing me to tell your story. It has been an honor and pleasure capturing your life as you lived it so long ago. Many who read this will see your pain and struggle. You are an overcomer and Gods mercy and grace is upon you.


I tried to kill myself this evening and nobody in my house had a clue. I took a couple of mamma's old sleeping pills hoping to make it quick and painless because I was tired of living. I am young with my whole life ahead of me folks would say, eighteen is far too young to die. I knew my future was no good because I had a family who didn’t give a damn about me.

Maybe if I go to sleep and never wake up, I would be doing those around me a favor. But in the end death didn’t even want me and I woke up hours later wondering if I did it if I died only to realize death for me was the air I was still breathing. Trying to escape this world through suicide would not be easy nor would it be my only try, it would be one of many.

I’ve been told, “Helen, maybe you shouldn’t write that story because people will look at you different.” I am not ashamed to tell the world how I got to the place I am standing today. I am telling my truth and how I felt growing up in an abusive home and a life of hell on the streets. I promised God, I would use my life as a light if, he saved me and he did. I would never wish my past on anyone and by telling my story, I pray it helps someone change their life and seek God’s face. I thank God, I don’t have to answer to man. If God wasn’t ashamed of me, why should I worry about what man thinks of me, they were not there with me through it all when I had no one or no family.

My family was confusing at times. One minute we got along and the next we were fighting and calling each other out of our names. I did not know how to feel in my family. Did they love me or hate me? I would be included one minute, excluded the next. And although we had moments where we laughed and got along as a family, it didn’t last. My place in the family was confusing as well as the treatment I received, I thank God, I did not lose my mind, but I lost something within. I am not perfect nor do I pretend to be a holy, pure soul perfect in all things. People who think this way are fooling themselves and they are afraid to look in the mirror at their own life.

I’ve done wrong, I’ve been hurt, and I have hurt others, yet I am big enough to own up to my responsibilities. This story may not be for everyone, but it's for someone and God has laid it on my heart to not be fearful in telling you how he pulled me out of the gutters of New Orleans, LA.

I was born and raised in, the Desire Housing Project, one of the worse projects in New Orleans. I was different and in my family, I was called names, but I knew my onyx complexion made me stand out in my family and they may have been jealous of me. Sure, everyone in my family varied in shades of black and brown, but I was the darkest and most beautiful of them all, not to mention fine as wine. As a part of a large family, many knew who we were without announcing our names. But I had a secret, and that secret was I felt no one in my family cared about me, not even my mamma. I was the third oldest girl of all my sisters and the sixth oldest child.

I remembered being locked outside of my home by my older siblings when I was a young girl until mamma got home. I also remembered being called, crazy and stupid by many members of my family, you know the folks who are supposed to love and protect you. This treatment only increased as I got older and fighting for my place in the family was something I had to do every time I turned my back. What did I do to deserve such treatment and abuse? Why was I hated in my own family? No matter what I did to make nice with my siblings it was never enough. It seemed like my own mamma had her chosen few out of the kids to love on while excluding me from everything and everyone in the family and the sad part is everyone knew what was happening.

I felt like trash at times. They all ate and got washed up for bed leaving nothing for me because they had me locked in the hallway. I went to bed hungry many nights, yet no one cared enough to stop the bullying. The way they treated me in my family played on my mind day and night, I knew no young girl should have gone through what I was experiencing. I also, knew this was something no child should ever have to face, but I did, the treatment by them got worse as I got older. Looking to escape, I jumped into marriage only to find where hell truly existed which was at the end of my husband’s fist, he would beat the hell out of me, but I learned to make whatever sense of life with him as I did in my home fighting with my siblings. It was just another prison of punishment dealt out to me by someone who also claimed to love and protect me, but did not. When you have to fight for your place in this world you become something ugly, to survive.

Here lies my story of turning to the streets for love, money, attention and drugs. I’ve seen a lot of things walking the streets of New Orleans over the years, I was one of them. I was forced to fight men as if I was a man myself and got the nickname Mr. Helen, but I fought everyone. I learned to tune out my pain in exchange for fake love dished out through drugs, prostitution, abuse and knocking men on their asses.

Telling you my story will not be easy, but I know it will be worth it in the end. Although names and places have been changed to protect the innocent, I must warn you that this will not be a pretty read, you may not know what to think after a few chapters, but know I was a broken woman walking the streets. My story may be shocking to some, sad and funny to others, but everything I tell you is true. I am not ashamed of telling you my struggle and pain because I was not well at the time, I know it now more than ever. You could never know what you would become when life seeks to destroy you through the ones you love. I am no longer that person today, I found my way back to myself and out of my darkest hours in life through the grace of God. I thank him every day for giving me life and pray that you find encouragement and strength in my story. It’s clear that I’ve overcome a lot. Every day I seek God’s face and know that if I can make it through my darkest hours of life, so can you.



The Year Was 1979

Sit down, shut up and don’t say a word. You’re stupid, dumb, crazy and a thief. Don’t anyone listen to Helen because she’s a liar. Move out the way lurch, no one believes you. Snickering is what I heard, from those in the family while my sisters, brothers and mamma tear me down. I could see how they looked at me, they didn’t like me and their dislike beamed from their eyes whenever I passed. Don’t tell her, she’s cute because, she’s not. Hit her, one of my sisters or mamma would say, fighting would break-out in my home and no one stepped in to stop it. “Yawl go get Helen.” someone would say, which translated to jump her, fight her and do whatever else you want to her. I had to look over my shoulder for fear of being jumped by my sisters every day. What have I done to deserve this? This was no way to live, but for me it was just a normal life.

When your life is damaged, you turn to everything, looking for a way out knowing no one can help you. This is what happens to a young woman when her family won’t claim her, but calls her names instead of showing her love? Who or what does she turn to for help or a way to escape the horrors of her life and the pain she’s been given? Here lies Helen’s story one of grief, pain and struggle. You know life is no damn good when no one in your family will help you battle your demons, yet enjoys the money you make prostituting yourself around town. How about falling in love with an abuser, being beating by a man you thought loved you? If I wasn’t fighting at home with my family and brothers and sisters, I was fighting my husband and drowning within. Bullied by everyone who claimed to love me and protect me, I became a monster on my way to the bottom of life.

One would say, getting in such a lifestyle killed me, I would have to disagree because, I was dead long before drugs took over my life. I didn’t care who I hurt or wronged along the way. Maybe I was crying out for help just no one heard me, or I was sick of life and living got in my way. I’ve made so many mistakes in my life and experienced so much pain that I questioned, why me? I have always been a fighter, but from time to time I gave in to my pain and sought to take my own life. I could never get it right or maybe death had no interest in me.

From the time, I was young, I felt like my mamma put me on hold by doing things for me at the last minute if at all. While my other siblings received nice things, I did not. School time was horrible because I was the last to receive school clothes and what mamma got for me was nowhere near what, she had brought for my other sibling’s weeks or days prior. I know I was the black sheep of the family by how everyone treated me. Although I was a child, I knew no one liked me in my family and as they wished me gone; I wanted to be far away. Days and years went by and nothing in my home changed, I wanted a relationship with mamma, but something was always wrong. My siblings felt they could bully me into doing everything because of how mamma treated me. I learned at a very young age to hate the life I was given.

As I became a young woman, it was my older sister who will stay nameless that took me under her wing and ran to my aid and defense when things at home had gotten too much for me to handle. From my late teens to my early twenties, I found that I had to defend myself and actions within my family. I would cook and clean, while doing everyone else’s chores, I got little to no respect. My mother went around town telling folks how awful of a daughter I was when it could not have been further from the truth. I could never understand why my mother would make me out to be lazy or saw me as a nobody. My mother would give everyone in the home money, but not me. She even had the nerve to give young women who visited our home money. This happened more times than I could count, but I did not stand by and let it happen. No, I went after mine, I would ask my mother if she had given my siblings and friends money because they would tell me and asked me if I was given money knowing I wasn’t, I ran to her only to be turned away and given nothing.

No, was her answer to having given anyone money and no, I could not have any. How can you give everyone else around you and not me, your own daughter? This was my question to her and many times, she would look me straight in the eyes and say, “I don’t have it to give.” How could a mother lie to her child? What ever happened to if you give one you give them all? This did not exist in my family because my mother enjoyed building bridges amongst her children and herself. I needed to get out, I needed my space or someone to love me and protect me because it was not there for me at home.

I met this fine chocolate man one day, and we spent a lot of time together away from my family, he lived on the other side of the river. Still it was not far enough because my mother would call me to come home and cook and clean the house even though my other siblings were home and could do it. I felt like a slave and even the man I was in love with felt this way. I fell in love and got married to him in 1980 and yes, he was everything I wanted and most of all, he was a strong, fine, black man. I knew I was going to be happy and away from my troubled family. I knew things would change for me for the better and it did, marriage was like a walk in the park in those first five years sweet as cake, I mean life was good. We lived everywhere in those five years of marriage, from his mother’s home, our own place, my mother’s home to a place of my own, but he was too messed up to do right.

I’ve must have had my head buried in the sand for those five years of what was supposed to be happily ever after when I found out the love of my life was running the streets with other women and doing drugs. We could not keep anything because of his heroin addiction, I was tired of him fighting me every time I moved. I was faithful to him, but clearly, he was not faithful to me and it changed me from within at that moment. I knew it was no one I could truly trust, everyone lied and let me down in my life. My husband changed how he was towards me due to sleeping around in the streets with crackheads and doing drugs. He was not the man I met and fell in love with, he was nasty and abusive to me as if he hated me like everyone else. Where was my protection, huh? Now who was I going to depend on to protect and take care of me? He started to stay gone more and more and left me with no financial support. I found myself once again in need for everything and no one to turn to for help. God knows, I could not go to my mamma’s house again and risk having to fight my sisters and brothers. My husband and I were living with his family after getting married. And things continued to get worse and in the middle of the 80s my husband’s family was burned to death in a house fire, he received a large settlement. Do you know he stops caring for me? In place of financial support and protection, he beat me with his hands. Yes, we fought all the time like night and day, I would have to learn how to fight him back or die trying to get him off of me. He was on that heroin bad and I thought he was sleeping with men at one time because I would come home from work and find him with this dude. No matter what he was doing he would stop and go with him. I even asked him if he was seeing him. If I understood nothing else while being beaten, I understood when he was done what I needed to do.

I did not leave him because he abused me, it was as if I expected it or was used to it because of what I had gone through at home. As bad as things were with my husband, I refused to go back to my mamma’s house and have to fight my sisters. I saw him no different from everyone else. He stopped loving me for all it was worth, and I was angry inside because of it. At night, his warm touches upon my skin felt cold and clammy, I realized once again, I was alone and not loved by anyone. He looked for love elsewhere throwing me away like my family before him, yet I got it. I was not going back home to be called crazy, stupid and dumb anymore by anyone. I needed to fix my life somehow. What could I do to make my life better? Which was what I thought about day and night, you heard me? I was lost and afraid, but I was willing to fight my way out and up if I had to. Even though I was working, I started getting government aid, I thought life would change now that I had cash coming into my hands, but it didn’t. My family continued to be against me and calling me out of my name. They always had something negative to say about me. But my husband was no different than my family, I had to leave him because of the abuse, I had nowhere to go and felt I could not turn to anyone in the family, not even my auntie because she was just like the rest of the family, abusive and calling me out my name. God knows I wanted to punch her in the mouth a couple of times, but my mother would tell me, “Leave my sister alone,” I told my mom one day, “If I hit my sisters what makes you think I won’t hit yours?” She said nothing to me after that statement.

Everyone loved talking about me and leaving me out of their lives until I had money. When the money was gone, so was all of them. I did not walk around with the hate in my heart the way they had for me. But when my brother was in jail and on drugs. I had to work and take care of him by buying him clothes. This was too much for me and I got on rocks and needed more money. The money I was working for along with the government aid I was getting was no longer enough, I still had to pay bills, dress myself and buy food. Since I was not getting enough money from working and government aid, I did drugs to be with men.

The men I met, they were soft men, men who were easy going and I would get their money by stealing it or robbing them. I liked this new way of life, crazy as that sound, but it was easy for me to get money without having to worry about anything. Men loved me that was for sure, they loved my dark complexion, sexy legs and round booty. And I was all of it and then some.

One day I met this man, who I will name Tim at a corner bar room in 1989. Tim was an off-shore man, he would come home every twenty-one days and give me money. We spent a lot of time together laying up in different places. After I would knock him out with sex, I would take all of his money. When he would wake up, he would look for his money, but his money was gone, I had that. I would try to go to sleep, but I would have smoked so much drugs that, I could not close my eyes. I was doing crack, and it had me restless. This guy Tim had a live-in girlfriend. One day something told me to go home, I kept hearing go home in my mind and I was like, “Lord why is my mind worrying me like this?” When I made it home, a lady I know called me and asked me where I had been and I told her I was going home. She said, “These women around here looking for you with guns,” I was like, “They is?” I was thanking the lord all that day for keeping me safe by not running into that situation.

Men would come and see me and when they did, I would drug them with sleeping pills by placing it in their drink and it would knock them out cold, I would then take their money. When I was done robing them, I would sit them in the hall way and when they woke up the next morning, they would wonder how they got on the ground or in the hallway. I would ask them when I opened my door, “You still in the hallway?” They did not have a clue of what happened to them and I did this a lot especially if I didn’t want to sleep with a man.

I remember I was out drinking at this bar one day and a friend of mine who knew me for years had stolen something and he wanted someone to buy it, but no one around me had money. I was getting tired of him and told him, “Go head on,” he was mad and called me a bitch. So, we started fighting and I hit him, I hit him so hard he went up in the air and down the gutter. I was given the name Mr. Helen and the woman who knocked a man in the gutter after that fight. Then I had another altercation with a dude I was going to whip and beat him down for messing with my brother, but I didn’t. After this second incident, they knew me around town as just Mr. Helen and that name never changed. I was never afraid to fight men in the streets or anyone because I was forced to fight my sisters, brothers and husband.

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