The experience of months of sexual abuse, school bullying and a childhood home dominated by alcoholism left Leoné Boshoff struggling to understand where the loving God that she had committed to as a nine-year-old had gone.
"I couldn't understand why (God) would allow all the bad things happen to me. What horrible thing had I done to deserve this?" she wondered.
"I felt ugly, dirty and alone. I grew angry at how unfair life seemed and got mixed up with the wrong crowd. I got involved in all the 'cool' stuff just to forget about life."
Life got harder for her when Leoné fell pregnant at the age of 16, and when her boyfriend then made another girl pregnant at the same time, her rejection and loneliness increased.
She says that it was a miracle that she was able to keep her baby girl, despite strong opposition, and raise the child herself.
"A decision I have never regretted," she says.
At 18, when Leoné's mother died of alcohol poisoning, she moved into an even worse situation with her new boyfriend, who was both an alcoholic and a drug-addict.
"This is the point where I just stopped trying and surrendered everything.
"At the age of 23 I was sick of the life. I was unhappy and felt all alone in the world."
Leoné decided to go to a local church in an attempt to try and pick up the pieces of her life.
"I realised that it was foolish of me to think that I could make life work on my own," she said.
There she rediscovered the passion that she had had for God as a little girl.
As a child she has heard about Jesus' love and death for her on the cross from a Christian evangelist who came to her primary school, and she had eagerly embraced Jesus as her personal saviour.
"I learnt that through (all I had been through) He had never left me.
"God stepped in when I said 'yes' and He gave my life a whole new make-over. He took my shame and renewed my heart.
"I am no longer a victim, now I live in victory.
"Ever since then I have pursued Him with everything I have. I still make mistakes," Leoné admits. "I am not perfect, but I dedicate each new day to the Lord and try to live each day for Him."
Her boyfriend also found freedom from his drug addictions by surrendering his life to Jesus and they married in 2008. They are now leading a church and have had a second daughter together.
"I study the Bible daily and do what it tells me, no compromise," Leoné declares.
"I once lived by my own desires, using my needs and emotions as a compass, but now I rather trust God to decide what is best for me."
Leoné does not fully understand why God allowed her to go through all she did but it is enough for her to know who God is.
"Although we still live in the world where there are many troubles, I have the assurance, joy and hope that is steadfast and unshakable. God is my rock, my unshakable foundation," she says.•