Seventeen-year-old Victoria Batiste was heavily steeped in the occult, and her dive into darkness started when she began hearing strange voices when she was five years old. It started as a little girl when she tried to escape a brutal home life, running to a made-up world where everything was perfect. “Everything that happened in that world,” said Victoria, “I was in control of.” For little Victoria, it was a way to cope with the real world where parents were often drunk or high, and at times, violent, especially her father who misused the Bible to justify his harsh brand of punishment. “A few times he slammed me on the ground, choked me and told me, ‘If thine arm offends me, cut it off,'” Victoria scoffed. “Basically, he was saying that ‘I’ll just cut you off and leave you behind. Then there was the verbal abuse, the constant accusation that she was never good enough. I hated myself,” Victoria admitted. “Felt like maybe something’s wrong with me.”
When Victoria was 5, other voices only she could hear entered her life. “The voices started to tell me that I’m special and that I’m not like other people and I can never be accepted,” recounted Victoria. In the coming years, Victoria began exploring the supernatural, a search that led her to witchcraft. All the while, there were the voices, encouraging her, leading the way. “I felt like they understood me,” said Victoria. “The witchcraft became more to me than just play. It wasn’t play because I knew it was real. Deeper and deeper, I would go into it. Like astral projection, that’s where you project your soul out of your body, and you travel in the spirit realm. That’s where I felt like I had power.” Even then, it didn’t give her the power to escape the ongoing chaos at home. So, when she was a teenager, she set witchcraft aside for another form of escape – opioids. “It was like it altered something in me, like I was happy,” Victoria said about the pills.
“Like the pain, the heaviness and emotions l felt when I woke up every day as a kid, I didn’t feel them anymore. This was something that helped me cope with what was really going on, on the inside of my head.” Victoria came to depend on those drugs throughout high school. For a while, they were enough. Until one night after a heated argument with her mum, a 17-year-old Victoria heard a familiar voice. “‘If you just give your life to the devil, then everything will be okay,'” Victoria said quoting the voice. “So, I said ‘okay.'” The next thing Victoria knew, she had her hands around her mother’s neck. “Almost choked my mum to death that night,” Victoria said soberly. “Don’t know why I stopped choking my mum. I just know I did.” Something had changed in Victoria as her life began to spiral further. She had several miscarriages, and the voices that once offered comfort, now tormented her constantly. “They just became aggressive,” she said of the voices.
“They would torment me in the middle of the night. I couldn’t move, breathe or see anything. It was like I was being choked to death. And my heart at that time was just broken. There was nothing but death on the inside of me.” The only bright spot was when Victoria, now 18, received a Bible from a family friend. She agreed to read it every day. However, it wasn’t until a year later, that the truth of God’s Word began to sink in. She was crashing in the hotel where her dad was staying, and couldn’t sleep. “My dad wakes up and says, ‘What’s wrong?’ All these thoughts were swirling through my head. And I was like, ‘I gotta do something different, man. I don’t want to be like this, and I don’t want my kid growing up in this,'” Victoria realized. “The last words that my dad told me before he kicked me out of the hotel room was, ‘Jesus can’t save nobody.’ And I was at a point in my life where I just didn’t believe that no more.”
On the streets with nowhere to go, Victoria again heard a voice, a different voice that said ‘go to the church.’ “I literally just broke down in tears and in that moment, I felt like that’s when I destroyed my contract with the devil.” When she reached the church doorsteps, Victoria fell to her knees and cried. Several church members arriving for the service asked if she was ‘okay’. I said, “No. I’m 19 years old. I’m three-and-a-half months pregnant and I don’t have anywhere to go.” “This lady walks up to me and says ‘Honey, do you need me to take you somewhere?’ And in that moment, that’s when I started to recognize that was God’s voice. And I surrendered. That was it. ‘Okay God, this is it. Do you want me to serve you? Do you want me to give my life to you? Here I am.'” Those that stopped, helped Victoria into the church where she gave her life to Christ. Her opioid addiction, the demonic influences and lies she believed about God and herself began to shatter.
“I started to realize that He was a loving God and He was a father, and He was there all along. ‘I’m ready to do whatever you want me to do.’ Because what I did before was not working,” she admitted with a chuckle. The church sent her to a women’s shelter before she eventually landed at a retreat in Texas for victims of domestic abuse. There, her faith grew, and she gave birth to her healthy son Nehemiah. She’s now studying social work and living a full life with Christ at the centre. “I don’t have to escape anything. When I have an issue, I run to God and I say, ‘Lord, what do we need to do?” Victoria continued. “I am saved. I am healed. I didn’t care about nothing else but what the Lord wanted to do. It changed my life forever.”
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