Born to a manic depressive mother and a schizophrenic father, statistically I had no chance of “being normal.” Brisk morning turned into terrifying night. Daddy put his hands where they didn’t belong. Mommy kicked him out and sat by the door to make sure I was safe. Family lied and said that she held me hostage. Police and news crews surrounded my house. Child Protective Services placed me with relatives.
You would think it would be easier to live with family. Kinship care was the toughest thing that I ever went through. The first night went great, and then my life changed. At 8 years old I was quickly sent into adulthood, when an older family member began to sexually abuse me. I contemplated who I could tell. Would they believe me or even help me? It was at that moment that I truly knew what the term “damaged goods” meant, because nobody wanted me or even liked me. I was sure all of this had to be my fault. To make things worse, it was made clear that “what happens in this house stays in this house.” Everything on the inside of me was falling apart, but on the outside I had to act like everything was OK.
The sexual abuse continued several times a week until I turned 10 years old. That is when my abuser, by this time a raging alcoholic and drug addict, started taking his friends’ money to let them have turns with me. I gathered up the courage to tell someone, and the school called my social worker. Nothing ever happened.
Things were bad at school too. I was bullied all the time because my clothes were ugly and worn and I was big and tall, so I began fighting a lot. The resulting write-ups and referrals made it worse at home. My family would lock me in a closet or in the basement, oftentimes for two or three days at a time.
In the seventh grade I begin to cut myself just to feel like I was alive, just to feel something. I also liked to numb myself with pills, so I didn’t have to feel what they were doing to me. I would stay out many nights so that I could feel somewhat free. By the time I reached high school I was very promiscuous, sleeping with anyone that would pay me attention. If he bought me something to eat or let me have somewhere to sleep, then I would be anything that he needed me to be. But if I decided to go home, the rapes and beatings got more severe.
I was hurting, torn between the wild child and the woman I knew I could be. I found an outlet in reading and writing. I excelled in school. I got good grades because I dreamed of one day helping young girls like myself, and thought that maybe those dreams could take me away from the pain.
Everything in me wanted to change, and I found a ray of hope in the people who were there for me, who saw through the hurt and knew that I wasn’t just some bad kid. My army of strong women fought for me when I couldn’t fight for myself. I am eternally grateful to my spiritual mother, Kathy Harris, and my mentors, Lillie Epps, Ms. Hardman and Veronica Thomas. They are the definition of what family should be.
Today I am on a journey to find where I belong. I achieved a 4.0 in high school and graduated from Bryant & Stratton College with a GPA of 3.3. I obtained $11,000 in scholarships. I’m working on a Masters in Counseling, and also my memoir, called Mountains Do Move. Turns out that I beat the odds – and I’m not only normal, I’m extraordinary. One day soon, destiny will leave on the porch light as I find my way home.
Published on May 1, 2015 as part of Children’s Rights’ “Fostering the Future” campaign. The opinions expressed herein are those of the blog author and do not necessarily represent the views of Children’s Rights or its employees. Children’s Rights has not verified the author’s account.