sexual abuse

"I don't have a dad. He’s locked up." by richard ross

I like to swim a lot, but they only give us 3 minutes to shower. I’m 15 now. I was 13 when I first came here. I live with my mom and grandmother. Not my stepdad. He split with my mom—she kicked him out because he was doing drugs and giving me drugs. Just bud and beer. I don't have a dad. He’s locked up. He wants to know about me but I don't care about him. I’m here because of drugs and because I’m a runner. I run from placement. The first time I was in placement it was for 7 days. I was 14. It was a group home with 4 girls. The judge put me there. Before that I was in juvie. I was 13. Then I was in placement for 4 days. I was 14 years old. And this was after change of faces. I was at a place after that for 20 hours. I’ve been here 18 times previously. I just don't want to be in placement. The judge doesn't want me at home. He gave me a lot of chances. I was on EM (electronic monitoring) at least 5 times, I would just cut it off. I would get arrested, then maybe get out and go to my grandmas house, and then somewhere else. And then I’d be back home within 72 hours, but they would still charge me for running.

My mom would call the cops on me. I would be all high on meth. I tried to stab my mom, but that wasn't me. It was the meth. My stepdad tried giving me meth when I was younger, but I liked the beer and the bud. There was no sexual abuse, but there was verbal abuse when my mom would party with her homegirls. They would get drunk and they would verbally abuse me when they partied. There would be drinking and cigarettes, no hard drugs. One time I got crazy with them because they went into my room and got my blankets and stuff and I started hitting them. They would talk shit to me but I wanted them to respect my shit. It’s my house and my property.

The dot on my arm? That's where I got a TB test and the nurse gave me a shot. I smoke meth, I tweak, sometimes I’m twisty. I smoke it. I usually didn't go to school. I would go for 2 or 3 days when I was 10. But once I tried meth I stopped going to school. The first time I tried meth I was 13 at a party. We would smoke at parties, we would smoke at my house, but I could stop. I don't need anybody to help me. I could stop because I overdosed in a restroom about two weeks ago. I was throwing up and I knew I was close to death. But I stopped for two weeks, and I been here for a week. So that's 3 weeks. So you see I could stop any time I want. But I have a taste for it, when I think about it I have a taste for it. But then I think I was going to die, and I was so scared… I was this close. So I think I can stop.

I go to court in 5 days. The judge wants me to go to placement. He wants me to do what he wants me to do. He’s not my mom. He’s not my dad. Why would I listen to him? I listen to my mom sometimes because she wants me to be safe. But then other times I don't listen to her because I just want the drug.

—O., age 15



"…if I ever get on track." by richard ross

I was here six times. The first time I was 13. I live with my mom, step dad, sister and two brothers. My mom visits me once or twice a week. I had a lot of VP (Violation of Probations). I broke an iPhone so they called it criminal damage. My Mom called the police. They have me in programs like New Directions for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. I did the program from July 1st to October 15th. 14 Weeks. I was on pills like Xanex and Molly. I experimented with anything and everything. I used the program to learn how to cope with my life. There are better things to do than drugs. It was a mandatory program where I was a resident. It was lock down treatment. I violated probation by having arguments with my mom. I violated the rules of house arrest.

At age 14 I picked up an MIP (Minor in Possession) for alcohol and weed. My mom sent me to Alabama when I was 12 to live with my dad. He was a drill Sgt. in the army. He would wake me up at 4:30 AM and beat me if I didn’t wake up. He would give me $20 at the beginning of the week and tell me to get my own food. He worked in the Post Office after he left the army. I told my mom how bad it was for me, but she thought I was just saying that. I got myself kicked out of his house so I went to live with a friend. My father came and kicked the door down. He pretty much beat me. I had a black eye and bruises. He put me on a bus back from Alabama to Ohio by myself. I have been here a month now. The judge knows I keep on getting into arguments with my mom.

— F.E., age 17

— F.E., age 17

He was a drill Sgt. in the army.

He would wake me up at 4:30 AM and beat me if I didn’t wake up.

He would give me $20 at the beginning of the week and tell me to get my own food.

I am going to go to Lakewood College and then to Kent State and do a degree in Psychology...if I ever get on track. CPS was never involved. My parents always wanted all the issues to stay in the house. After the fight in Alabama, I had so much resentment, I kind of raked out. My sister is a 4.0 student. My grandma is not my actual grandma. She went through a lot of physical and sexual abuse when she was little. My Mom went through the same. I think my mom sees a lot of myself in her. She treats me badly. She sent my little sister to my dad’s house as well. Ever since I left Alabama, I never spoke to my dad. He does things like calls on HIS birthday, not mine. He only thinks of himself.

— F.E., age 17

"I’m just waiting for someone to help me." by richard ross

Right now I’m on the move. I’m just waiting for someone to help me. My dad is trying to get a home so he can pick me up. Me and my mom don’t really talk. I’ve been here over a year. I was 13 when I first came into the system. I was originally in detention. Now I’m in here for sexual abuse. They’re helping the kids here. I don’t want to be here but I’ve changed my behavior in the last six months, how you feel about things and why. We have staff that help us try to make better decisions. They try to make it the best while we’re here although sometimes the kids will curse the staff out. There are five kids in my cottage, lots of staff. I meet with the social worker once or twice a week for 45 minutes or an hour. My dad is in a shelter right now. My mom is with her husband and my little sister.

S., age 14

S., age 14

Being abused and neglected is not my crime.

I’m here for a sexual assault. I was 12 when charges were first filed. Me and my mom haven’t talked since I was little. We may pass words but there’s no mutual kindness to each other. My mom did something really bad that threatened my life when I was two and caused my dad to go to jail. I was a baby and my mom would take the check that would come for me and would leave. She would leave me there with no food and no clothes and spend the money. My dad would retaliate because of what she did and he was charged with domestic violence. And then they would put me with my mom again. I was with my dad when he got out and we would move through shelters from when I was two until I was about 12. At 12 I went to my first foster home. I was in at least 25 different foster homes and never stayed in one more than a week or so. I felt I was intruding into other people’s lives. It didn’t seem proper to me. My mom was very into drugs and alcohol. I can fit in with other kids. I smoke a little. Drink. I’m sexually active. I want to go to an Ivy League school—Duke, Syracuse or Florida State. I’m not a community college type person. Shelters weren’t that hard. I got to meet a lot of new friends when I was a kid. The longest I stayed in the same shelter was a year and a half. My dad couldn’t have a house. He had money issues. He couldn’t find a job. ACS are the people that find you a home. They intervene only for abuse and neglect. Being poor is not a crime. Being abused and neglected is not my crime. The judge decided I should be sent here. The big choice I had was upstate or here. I lucked out. The only person I trust is my mentor, and I trust my dad. He’s taken care of me all that time. And some of the staff here.

—S., age 14