135 Years, 135 Stories title image

Finding My New Family

SHANTE, New York

Life took a turn for me when I was 10 and my father left us. After he was gone, my mom became a different person, that when the physical and emotional abuse started.I was a good student with good grades and I didn’t get into trouble. But that didn’t stop my mother. At school I never talked to anyone I just focused on my school work. The kids at school called names because I was so quiet and didn’t really interact with anyone. Eventually, in high school I got a job that gave me break from the abuse and bullying. I looked forward to school and work because I didn’t want to get into it with my mother.

Since I wasn’t at home as much my mom started abusing my sister. I didn’t want this to happen to her too so I tried to get my mom to focus on me. I would often wonder why I was going through all of this and what I did to deserve it.

As the abuse continued, I ran away a few times. My mom got so tired of me running that she sent my sister and me to California to live with my dad. I was 16 at the time. In California I went wild. I was drinking and doing drugs. I was depressed because I missed New York. My father was supportive, but as a male he just couldn’t relate to me.

One day I woke up remembering what my mom had said to me during one of our fights:“You’re going to be just like me; young and pregnant.” I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction so I worked really hard not to be like her. My father lost
his job and we lost our house. So I was sent back to New York to live with my grandmother.

I worked and went to school while I was living with my grandmother. Later I found out I was pregnant but kept it from my grandmother. Eventually she found out and she kicked me out.

The father of my baby denied that the baby was his, and I had nowhere else to go. I thought I had hit bottom but it was then life turned around for me. I found Inwood House in the Bronx. It was a family environment, which I liked. I got so much support from staff. They helped me with my baby, provided me professional clothes for job interviews. I learned so many things from different people. They pushed me everyday because they knew I could do it.

Today, I have a beautiful baby girl and soon I will start studying forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to become a medical examiner.