135 Years, 135 Stories title image

Smoking Pot at Age 9

MARIA, California

I was born in El Salvador October19, 1990 and almost from the beginning I’ve experience a lot of violence in my life.

At nine months old I was covered with boiling water over a large part of my body and I still have scars. When I was two years old I was repeatedly hit on the head with hammer and I have scars from that too. I came to the USA when I was six years old. My uncle raped me when I was nine years old and I never told anyone. My sister walked in when I was being raped. She just left and closed the door. Later when I asked why she didn’t get help she told me that I was enjoying it. I think I gave up then. I knew I couldn’t count on my family.

My relationship with my mother then and now has never been good. My dad was my best friend but he stayed in El Salvador so I didn’t get to see him. I lived in Pasadena with my mom and four sisters. At nine years old I started smoking and hanging out with gangs, I would get suspended from school every day for fighting. At 14, I got expelled from middle school for having drugs on campus. Eventually, my dad came to live in Bakersfield so I was able to live him for a short time but he died suddenly leaving completely alone. My father was my only friend someone that I trusted, that I talked to, laughed with, shopped with, and spent time with.

After he passed away things got worse between my mom and me. At that point I knew I had no support and I didn’t care about much and did whatever I wanted. I would leave the house to get drunk, smoke and look for fights. I would go back home and argue with my mom. Two months later I got charged for selling rock cocaine. Eventually I ended up at Crittenton. They helped me with my schooling, money and respect. Before I left I was advising girls and some listened and for others it takes time. I learned a lot while being in placement there. I had a plan and had saved up a lot of money– a couple thousand dollars.

I left Crittenton and emancipated into a transitional home and I was doing pretty well. Sadly I gave up that transitional home to move back in with my mother and to help her keep her house. She and other members of my family needed money so before I knew it my savings was gone. I struggle now because of my family. But Crittenton helped me learn to stay strong, to believe in myself and I know I’ll be okay. Crittenton is still there for me, so at least I don’t have to face my struggles alone.

Maria's Photo