An astonishing story of triumph and a fierce determination to give back.
Carissa Phelps was a runner. By twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp, who made her walk the hard streets of central California. But even when she escaped him, she could not outrun the crushing inner pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. With little to hope for, she expected to end up in prison, or worse.
But then her life was transformed through the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor. Miraculously, by the time Carissa turned thirty, she had accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She had left the streets behind, yet her path would eventually draw her back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth find their own paths to a better life.
This is Carissa’s story, the tale of a girl who lost herself and survived, against all odds, through the generosity of strangers. It is an inspiring true story about finding the courage to run toward healing and summoning the strength to light the way for others.
Author Carissa Phelps Shares Her Story of Perseverance
Carissa Phelps is an attorney, youth advocate and CEO of Runaway Girl, Inc. By the age of 12, Carissa Phelps, feeling abused and abandoned, ran away from home and ended up living on the street, turning to a pimp for lack of another choice, was sold as a sex slave, ended up in juvenile hall and then finally, through the helping hand of a teacher and counselor, started on a good path.
Both her parents were abandoned as young children so they didn’t really know how to parent their own children. Carissa’s mother and father divorced, in part because of her mother’s devotion to being a Jehovah’s Witness. Carissa’s new step dad, Steve, brought a bunch of his own kids to Carissa’s already large family. And he brought along his volatile personality…one minute fun and kind, the next raging and dangerous.
Carissa felt her only escape was to run…something she did from home and from groups homes where she was placed. Juvenile Hall was a place she really found her ability to study and learn. She ended up finishing high school, going to Fresno State, and the getting her law degree and MBA from UCLA.
Carissa works with survivors of sex trafficking and hopes her work will help bring attention and funding to young people who need help, guidance and support.