One of the things that can be helpful in the healing process is knowing you are not alone. I've found it helpful that, while my story is unique to me, I do have something in common with other survivors. We have invited survivors to share their stories...from abuse to surviving and thriving. We also invite you to share your story, no matter where you are in your journey. Your story can and will inspire others. In this section, you'll find such stories.
After sabotaging my second foster home it was back to The Stricklands, who I had lived with before in an emergency shelter setting.
It was November 1983 and all the faces were new except for Mark and Jackie who had been there forever.
I had gotten close to Mrs. Patton, my child care teacher, and she had had me over at her house to join her family for dinner; etc. more than once. In a month around Christmas she would have me over again on my step dad's birthday and her family would give me gifts and treat me like I was part of their family. I also had a close relationship with my math teacher who was friends with Mrs. Patton and
Tyler is a 28 year old survivor of extensive childhood abuse and neglect. In an effort to spread awareness about how pervasive childhood abuse can be, Tyler has given permission to share his story here. From a very small town, Tyler experienced abuse into adulthood and to this day has an unbalanced relationship with his abuser. Unfortunately, the town he grew up in is quite poor and isolated, with stories like his being all too common there.
Everyone that you know has a story to tell, some easier to listen to than others. This is mine. It’s not easy to write, I am sure it won’t be easy to read. I write it not for sympathy, that’s not who or what I am about. I stand tall with my head held high. I am not the victim these people wanted me to be. I rose above all the abuse, the hurt, and the pain and became a Survivor. I write my story simply to share it, but also as a thanks to those that helped a scared kid all those years ago. The more people that know that Child Abuse happens every day in every town in every socioeconomic status, and then maybe just maybe it will happen less; fewer kids will bare the scars that cast a shadow over them that last a lifetime. So this is my story…
My husband and I became foster parents in 2008 in hopes of adopting a child. After a few months of getting no placement calls, we decided to increase our licensing to allow up to two children. Within days, we were informed that we were being considered for placement of twin newborn babies! My famous last words to my husband were, "How much harder can two babies be than one?"
Since the age of 7, I have lived with my grandma and relied on her to take care of me. Before that age I stayed with her off and on, but never for very long. I was unsuccessfully placed in both my mother's and my father's care. About 3 years ago, I was finally placed with my grandma. It was in her home that I found the stability I needed, along with the love and respect I had always wanted.
Shirley was only a baby when she entered the foster care system. Her parents were no longer able to care for her, and the only connection social workers knew of was her maternal grandfather, who was unable to be a placement option for her at the time. In our county, social workers work with Family Finders who help us with locating and notifying relatives.
After months of couch surfing, I was 14 and in foster care. My journey began in Fairbanks, AK, at an emergency shelter. Eventually, I was told that I was going to be placed in Tribal foster care because I am a registered Alaska Native. At first I thought, "What's the difference? Still a system right? One can't be worse than the other." But even though my family is Alaska Native, I grew up in the city. No one in the family is traditional in any way, except for the food our distant family members sent us on occasion. What did I know about Tribal anything? I didn't even have Alaska Native friends. Thoughts of native foster parents living in the village crossed my mind, and I was scared.
When revealing parts of my childhood in foster care, people typically become apologetic. However, I don't tell the story to garner sympathy. I tell it to exude a level of resiliency and one's ability to overcome any odds stacked against them evident in any human willing to seek from within. Of course, this process is not easy. First, you must endure hardships, uncertainty, and even trauma in far too many cases. Next, you have to survive the ordeal, which could mean years of torment. If you survive it all, you're likely a troubled adult seeking a more hopeful path toward mending.
The day I met my girls and their other siblings changed my life forever. I met them at my school and I was one of their teachers. I instantly had a connection with all of them. I love all of my students but these groups of kids touched my heart dearly. I cared for those kids like they were my own. My classroom was their restaurant, shopping center, and beauty salon. When they missed school I called their social workers to see why they missed school and to let them know that I've missed them that day. Every single day I went home and spoke about my girls to my family. I found out that my girls were living in a shelter with other foster children. My sister and I went to court and asked for visitation rights, so that I can see them on the weekends and to take them out to special places. And I was awarded visitation :)
I'll never forget the date: It was June 7, 2007, when I was sent to jail for possession of illegal drugs, and child welfare services picked up my daughters, Shlai and Kalawya, from daycare. At that time, Shlai was 3 years old and Kalawya was not yet a year old. After a short stay in jail, I tried to regain custody of my children. Child welfare services kept telling me to get clean of substance abuse, but I wasn't ready. My daughters were placed in foster care. Tired of my life as I had been living it, I went to a rehab center in my hometown of Nashville, TN, and they referred me to a rehab center in Alabama.
As I look back over the past few years of my life as a mother, I can hardly believe that my kids and I have
made it this far! We have definitely had our ups and downs and our fair share of time being involved with CPS. I had a very tough childhood and, like most people, I continued that cycle over and over, losing custody of my children three times. After the third time, I became involved with Washoe County Social Services and a new program that would eventually change my life as well as the lives of my children.