I wish Girls Inc. had been available when I was in middle school. “At risk” would be an understatement to describe my entire childhood. I never had an opportunity to take healthy risks, resist peer pressure or discover my true potential. No one told me I could be strong, smart and bold before I came to the YWCA Weaver Domestic Violence Center.
When I was 8, I was raped. When I was 10, I told another girl on the playground about the rape, she told her Mom and I was put in a foster home. I was full of rage and out of control. None of the foster parents wanted me.
I was 13 when my mother got me my first apartment. I had a 26 year old boyfriend, a job and I was trying to stay in school. I got pregnant when I was 16 and it was TWINS! Eventually I dropped out of high school. (I am proud to say I earned my GED in 2007.)
Before I knew it I was repeating the domestic violence cycle that I observed in my parent’s home… and I did not know how to stop it.
I went from one abusive relationship to another. I realized I was making poor choices but I did not know how to make different ones. I felt guilty and ashamed, it was awful.
The night the police took me to the YWCA Weaver Center I started to find my freedom and a safe place to evolve into who I wanted to be, with the support of a case manager to get there. (The shelter staff supplied everything that I needed –even the clothes that I am wearing.) I took advantage of everything that was offered. It was like someone gave me a blank canvas and told me to paint my life the way I wanted it to be. My case manager gave me art supplies, my support group meetings gave me knowledge and the other staff gave me encouragement to move forward.
I no longer have to be a victim of my circumstances or a product of the past. With the help of the YWCA, I have learned to take one day at a time, focusing on staying in the present—not re-living the past or getting overwhelmed by worrying too far ahead.
Now I am in my own apartment, thanks to the YWCA Transitional Housing Program. It is fully decorated and furnished by Re-New at the YWCA. I have a part-time job and am interviewing for a full-time job.