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Her Protectors Were Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

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Gigi Calcagno was just a child when her adoptive parents began sexually abusing her and her brother, who was also adopted. “These people are supposed to love you, and protect you, and raise you, and take care of you. And for someone that's supposed to do that, to be hurting you in a way that steals your childhood, your innocence, it’s extremely traumatizing,” says Gigi.

The abuse didn’t stop there. “Physical abuse and mental abuse played a big part of my childhood as well. I went somewhere else mentally. I blanked it out and whatever was happening to my body was not happening to my mind,“ remembers Gigi. 

To outsiders, Gigi’s parents were upstanding neighbors who provided well for their children and took them to mass regularly. “I really thought that God was not concerned about me,” recalls Gigi. “I thought he was for other people, and that this was my life.”

When Gigi was in her teens, her brother also began sexually abusing her. She was trapped in a nightmare. “I didn't see a way out. And neighbors, nobody wanted to get involved. Nobody wanted to help. Everyone turned a blind eye. I felt so alone. So I slit my wrist and ended up being taken to a 72-hour hold for an evaluation,” says Gigi.

After high school, Gigi moved out and lived with friends and on the street. By then she was addicted to drugs and alcohol. “Cocaine, heroine, whatever they had, I took it and didn’t ask any questions," says Gigi.

Then a friend told her how she could make good money and have access to all the drugs she wanted by becoming a stripper. “A friend of mine said she’d introduce me to the owner. I was so naive when I was 21 at that point. I didn't know that she was recruiting me. He was a trafficker," remembers Gigi.

For several years, Gigi was in a relationship with the owner, who gifted her with lots of clothes and jewelry, but he also pimped her out. “I was in love with the idea of getting out of the life I had. I was in love with someone taking care of me and protecting me, or so I thought, and finally providing things for me that I couldn't provide for myself,” says Gigi.

He eventually got bored with her and kicked her back out on the streets. Gigi then landed in jail for falsifying a prescription and disorderly conduct. She was ordered into what happened to be a faith-based rehab program. ‘I didn't know it was a Christian rehab when I went to register,” says Gigi. “They gave me a life recovery Bible. I remember, ‘We love, because He first loved us.’ That was the first verse that I read. And it, it just hit my heart. I was loved by God.”

Despite this experience, she relapsed soon after leaving rehab. Again, she would fall into the hands of another sex trafficker, a woman she calls, “Kat,” who befriended her. “She was a big controller and user, a lot of coercion,” remembers Gigi. “She took my ID, my birth certificate, all the money. I was strictly to make money for her benefit.”

One day Gigi was panhandling for money in Memphis when a man gave her some money and then invited her to church. He turned out to be a pastor. “He paid for my motel room until I could get my paycheck,” says Gigi. “And that Sunday he arranged a ride for me to come to church and Sunday school. I was taken to lunch and provided for. It was just amazing, the love.” 

Gigi began attending the church and heard more about the love she’d read about years earlier in rehab. “God started speaking to me,” says Gigi. “I started reading it every day. I started journaling. I gave up secular music."

The church members helped rescue Gigi from Kat and helped her find a job. In 2017, she surrendered her life to Christ. “I just wanted to hear God say, ‘I’m here. I delivered you. I’ll keep you safe.’ And He did,” recalls Gigi. “I started thinking about getting baptized. My whole church gathered around a swimming pool and I got baptized. I feel like when I came up out of that water, I was officially a new creation, that was washing away everything that had happened, and that Jesus defined me, not my past.”

Today, Gigi has a church family that loves her, a good job, has a degree, and hopes to write the story of what Jesus has done for her. 

Daniel Henely, the pastor of Journey Christian Church, remembers Gigi’s transformation. “In Matthew it says, ‘come to me and I’ll give you rest,’ right? ‘All you are weary and heavy burdened,’ He said, ‘my yoke is easy, it's light.’ Right? Well, Gigi’s done that. She learned this way of resting, resting in God. She walks in the Spirit and it's a beautiful flow to see God manifest Himself in her life.”

“No matter what you've been through in this life, Jesus is bigger,” says Gigi. “No matter what your story has been like, with Jesus, your story's not done.”

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About The Author

Randy Rudder

Randy Rudder received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Memphis and taught college English and journalism for 15 years. At CBN, he’s produced over 150 testimony and music segments and two independent documentaries. He lives in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, with his wife, Clare, and daughter Abigail.