The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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I Can't Forget
Childhood abuse makes it hard for me to have a boyfriend

Names have been changed.

One day in 10th grade, I was sitting in the bleachers during gym class, hanging out with my best friend Sam. He always made me laugh, especially when he talked about what boy he thought was cute. As Sam and I joked, I saw an 11th grader named Ted and his friend Josh looking at me.

I felt scared. Ted was a troublemaker and loved intimidating people. He was tall and muscular, like a football player. We had three classes together, and he always had a mean look on his face, as if he was about to fight someone.

“Why would he bother me?” I thought. “He doesn’t bully girls.” I whispered in Sam’s ear, “Ted and Josh keep staring over here, I think they talking sh-t about us!”

“Mmmm they both fine, girl, they can do what they want with me,” Sam joked. I agreed that Ted was very attractive, which made me assume he would never like me.

I had recently started losing weight, but I was still insecure. I had been very heavy in middle school and got bullied a lot. Now I wasn’t sure how I looked. Sam said, “Girl, ya ass and hips are bigger than your stomach and waist, so please.” I thought he was saying that just to be nice because I had low self-esteem.

Josh came over with a note for me, and Sam grinned as I opened it. It was from Ted, and it said I was beautiful and down to earth and that he wanted a chance with me.

I thought, “He is super cute, but will he be nice to me? Will he hit me? Will he scream at me for no reason and put me down?” My mother’s boyfriends had abused me verbally, physically, and sexually before I went into care, so guys made me nervous. I was happy that Ted found me attractive, but I was also scared.

Why Me?

I gave Ted a chance partly because Sam buzzed in my ear like a fly, saying, “Girl, you better not pass that up. You so lucky. Damn he’s fine.” But it wasn’t Sam’s fault: He didn’t know I was sexually abused when I was young or even that I was in foster care. Sam was my best friend, but I was too embarrassed to tell him about my past. I didn’t think he’d judge me. I just wanted to forget about all the bad things that had happened to me.

I decided to take Ted up on his offer even though I was uncertain about being in a relationship with him. Sam gestured to Ted to come over to us. My heart jumped into my stomach and back as Ted walked over.

Ted told me I was beautiful and that he’d had a crush on me since I started school last year. I didn’t know what to say. I played with my hair and said thank you, softly. He asked if he could get to know me because he was interested in me.

I said, “Why me?”

“Why not? You’re beautiful, smart, funny, and down to earth.”

“How would you know? This is the first time we’re having a conversation.”

“We have three classes together and little do you know I pay a lot of attention to you. I was just scared to tell you.”

“Really? As big as you are, you were scared to talk to little me?”

“Yeah, you’re different from other girls. You make me shy.”

Ted seemed sincere; he wasn’t being flirtatious or smooth. We continued talking for the next three weeks and I forgot all about my fear of him treating me bad. He took me to the movies and bowling, and I went out to dinner with him and his family. Not once did he try to have sex with me. He treated me as if I was made of gold; he called me Princessa.

A Jewelry Box

One day I was sitting down at lunch talking with Sam as usual, and Ted came and approached us holding something behind his back. He brought out a small white box from Macy’s.

“You’re not asking to marry me, right?” I said. “Because we only been talking for three weeks and we are too young to get married.” He laughed while I opened the box: Inside was a white gold necklace with a locket that had his initials and mine along with the date.
“It’s beautiful,” I gasped. “But why does it have today’s date on it?”

“Because I wanna make it official with you. I want you to be my girl.”

I finally replied after a minute of silence, “How do you know I am going to say yes just because today’s date is on here? What if I said no? You would have wasted your money.” I just wanted to see what he would say before I gave him an answer.

“I would have been disappointed and hurt. But I wouldn’t feel that I
wasted my money because you are worth every penny. I know you have feelings for me, and if you say no now I know you will say yes later. Maybe I asked you too soon.”

My eyes got watery; Ted’s words touched me. I reached in and gave him a kiss and whispered in his ear, “Yes, I would love to be your girl.” He put the necklace on me and we continued to hold each other until lunch ended.

I really didn’t have any friends except Sam. But after I started dating Ted, people said we were a cute couple. I felt like a celebrity. I was becoming popular at a moderate pace, and I liked it, but I also wasn’t comfortable being the center of attention. A lot of kids tried to befriend me but I still sat with Sam at lunch.

Three weeks later, I was at Ted’s house playing Tekken on the Xbox in his room. He was letting me win as always, and I was gloating and singing, “Ha, ha, I win.” Ted turned his game off because I said I wanted to watch SpongeBob. It was 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday and my weekend curfew was midnight.

image by YC-Art Dept

My foster mother Mrs. Santos was cool. She treated me as if I was one of her own. She was a good person, but I never told her about Ted. I thought she would assume I was having sex with him and not let me see him.

But Ted and I weren’t having sex. I never brought Ted to my house because I didn’t want him to know I was in foster care. I told him she was my real mother and that she didn’t want me to have a boyfriend. I felt bad about lying to him but it stopped him from asking why we couldn’t go to my house.


I sat cross-legged on Ted’s bed and watched SpongeBob. Ted said, “SpongeBob’s gay.”

“No, he’s not,” I said and smacked him with one of his pillows. We started horse-playing and wrestling on his bed. Ted pinned me down by my arms and started kissing me. I was nervous but kissed him back. He started kissing me on my neck. My heart started racing, then my thoughts: “What’s going to happen next, what am I going to do if he tries to have sex with me, I’m scared, I can say no, it’s my body.” I stayed quiet thinking of what to say.

All of a sudden Ted took his right hand and slowly and gently moved it down my torso. All I could think about was my mom’s boyfriend raping me when I was 7 and 8 and 9. I felt as if it was happening again. I wanted to cry. Then he tried to unbutton my jeans. I screeched, “No! No! Get off me, please stop, get off me.” Tears ran down my face. Ted jumped up and said, “Yo, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I said, gathering my stuff up to leave.

“Did I do something wrong?”

“No! I just want to leave!”

I rushed out of Ted’s house without telling him goodbye. I wiped off my tears so no one could see I was crying. I got on the bus and went straight home.

“Hi Mommy,” I greeted Mrs. Santos when I walked in.

“You’re home early.”

“I got bored. I think I’m starting to dislike being outside.”

I felt bad lying to her, but I didn’t want to tell her I had an emotional breakdown because Ted tried to have sex with me. I didn’t know how she would react and I didn’t want to find out.

I Don’t Quite Know How

I didn’t know how I was going to face Ted in school on Monday. I’d ignored his calls and texts. I knew he was upset with me and didn’t understand what was going on. It wasn’t Ted’s fault that I acted in such a manner. He didn’t know I was raped; I hadn’t told him. Maybe if I’d told him, he would have never tried to have sex with me, but he would probably ask me questions like, “Do you feel uncomfortable?” when he kissed me. I would have been embarrassed if he acted like that. After stressing myself out for two hours, I decided how I would fix the problem I felt I’d created.

On Monday morning, I sent him a text saying “I’m sorry for the way I reacted. I never had sex before and I was scared.” He replied back, “It’s OK, I’m sorry I scared you.” Then I texted him to meet me in the library at second period.

Second period came and I was in the library waiting, tapping my fingers against the table rapidly. When he walked in, my throat dried up and I felt like I was swallowing rocks.

I pulled myself together as he sat down next to me.

“I don’t think we should be together anymore,” I blurted quietly.

“What do you mean?”

“I really like you, but I’m not ready to be in a relationship.”

Ted got up, gave me a mean look, and walked out quietly. I was both heartbroken and relieved. I didn’t know what I was thinking dating Ted. I figured he would want to have sex with me eventually but I wasn’t thinking about how to prevent him from wanting to. I put my head down on the table, crying and cursing my mother’s boyfriend in my head.

“This is all his fault. I hate him, I hate my mom, Ted hates me now, I wanna tell Ted but I’m embarrassed. Who wants to tell someone they were raped by a 38-year-old drunk? I really liked Ted, I wanna kill my mom’s boyfriend. Does he know what he did to me? Does he care?” I stayed in the library the whole school day.

Since then, I’ve tried to figure out how I can recover from the trauma I went through so that someday I can be in a relationship. I’ve been going to a therapist, but I haven’t told her yet. Writing this story is the first time I’ve told anyone what happened when I was little.

I’m 20 now, and I still haven’t had sex with a guy. When things get to that point with someone I’m dating, I break it off. I don’t know how I’m ever going to move forward. I know that it is not my fault what happened to me, but it still traumatizes me. I need to talk about it with my therapist, but I don’t feel ready. I am still young and I will get over my trauma eventually, though I don’t quite know how.

Treating Trauma In the Body

This author had a flashback to her childhood trauma when her boyfriend touched her (“my heart started racing, then my thoughts”; “All I could think about was my mom’s boyfriend raping me”). One therapeutic technique that’s been known to work in such cases is somatic or body-oriented therapy. Somatic therapists emphasize how trauma and shame is felt in the body, especially if the trauma happened before age 11, when people’s sense of themselves is more body-oriented and less mental.

These therapists’ approach is to guide their clients back through the traumas while paying attention to the person’s nervous system. As the client gets upset, the therapist re-focuses her on her breath, the feeling of her feet on the ground, a painting on the wall. Bringing the re-traumatized person back into her body makes it easier to endure fully experiencing the memories. And then the person knows, “I went there, and it didn’t kill me!” She’s not carrying around secrecy and shame, and it becomes easier to move on. For a directory of somatic therapists around the world, go to

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