Ashley's Story


ashley_harden_story_image.jpgWhen I looked out my front window that morning in October 2013, my whole life froze in time. My house was surrounded by armed federal officers. They came in, searching for money, drugs and guns. And they found them — $150,000 cash, guns of all shapes and sizes, drugs, all stashed and hidden away.

I never knew anything about it. The man I'd been married to for 10 years, the father of my two young children, the man I thought ran an honest hairstyling business, actually trafficked guns and drugs. Later that evening, I was released. My now ex-husband will never leave prison again.

But, despite the fact that I was found innocent, I lost so much more than my marriage. I lost everything: our house was destroyed, my savings were confiscated, all my possessions taken, cars gone, everything. I even lost my kids to foster care, because the state felt I should have known about the danger.

I was so traumatized, I had a nervous breakdown. Almost overnight, I went from being a mother and wife to being homeless, living in cars and abandoned buildings. I was raped, robbed and beaten — and ended up pregnant. I wandered the streets in a fog, until I finally came to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission's Joy House.

Safe for the First Time

For the first time in months I felt safe. The people here gave me three good meals a day, put a roof over my head, got me into counseling, and, best of all, led me to Jesus Christ. The staff and other women hereare the best friends I've ever had, and they treat me like family. We pray together, encourage each other and help each other grow. And now, I'm in the process of getting my kids back. If it wasn't for Jesus and Joy House, none of this would have happened.

This Christmas, I'm changed — I'm no longer traumatized. Only God could have done that. And for the first time in a long time, I'm sleeping in heavenly peace.