Despite the Odds

For Child Abuse Prevention Month, we offered our youth the opportunity to have their voices heard and write a feature story for our blog. The below piece was written by a young woman named Jasmine.

April 7, 2017 – “Did I do the right thing? What will happen to my parents now? They’re the only family I ever knew, my brother and sister are going to hate me now.” These were the questions and worries running through my mind after I told my high school guidance counselor about the abuse I was going through at home. I was seventeen at the time. I am now twenty and have been in foster care since January of 2014. I have come very far from where I was, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Today I want to tell you that it can be done!

For about six years of my life I was physically abused. Actually, that’s an understatement, I was held hostage and tortured by my dad and stepmom. Inhumane acts would be done to me; things you see in movies or murder documentaries. There were so many days I wanted to go to school and not come back. I felt as if I had no outlet or room to breathe, every day was a mystery as to what mishap I would come home to this time. I knew nothing else. My junior year in high school was the worst; I skipped school countless times because of a busted lip, swollen eye, or open wounds.

Although I knew what my dad and stepmom were doing to me was wrong, they always said they loved me, therefore I felt guilty deep down knowing that I betrayed them. Why hadn’t you said anything sooner you might ask. It was the toxic love and manipulative minds that held me hostage. Psychologists say that childhood is a vital part in one’s development and I find that to be very true! Those words and scars stuck with me, and it affects the way I look at myself, think of myself, and love myself.

Pretending you know none of that, I want you to know that I am resilient, self- aware, empowering, passionate, confident, and happy. However, these characteristics didn’t develop overnight. I conquered all of that with help of the foster care system, social workers, mentors, and personal willingness. I’m here to tell you that despite the odds, it can be done!

Most youth in foster care aren’t there because they want to be. I have been involved with many children through community organizations and events. I’m sure I can speak for all when I say that it is hard to heal. We put up a wall or facade to avoid getting hurt again. There are so many defense mechanisms that are used, but most of the time people see them as acting out. A part of healing is learning to accept and love yourself for who you are, and that’s very hard to do with some of the things we go through.

I feel what we all need is love, guidance, and motivation. Personal relationships play a huge part in this even though it can be hard to achieve; A relationship built from trust, honesty and understanding. Once the youth have this, I feel they will be more keen to their potential and realize they can strive for anything!