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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This Angel’s No Angel
I want to be with someone who respects me
Anonymous
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“Mmm, he looks good,” my friend said. It was our first week at our new high school. We were checking out freshman boys at lunch.

“Oh, what about that one?” I pointed toward a Spanish boy with a long curly Afro.

“I’mma get him first,” she teased.

“Stop!” I cried. I found out later his name was Angel.

A few days later after school, I was making my long walk to the train. I saw Angel with a few other guys from school. They were all running toward the same train station I was.

Angel stopped and said, grinning, “Hola.”

I felt nervous and shy so I just said an awkward “Hi.”

He turned and caught up with his friends.

I walked a bit faster to catch up with Angel, trying not to make it obvious. I just had to get up close and personal with him again. His long curly hair swayed as he ran off and I pictured myself playing with it if we were together. When I got to the subway platform I saw him and his friends sitting on the benches. I sat on the seat farthest from them and he got up and stood next to me.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked with that same grin.

“No, why?”

“You want to go out?”

I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not.

“No, but maybe we should talk more.”

“Aight? I don’t understand this bet,” was all he said. When the train pulled into the station, we all got on. He flirted with me some more until I got off at my stop.

Jealousy and Confusion

The next day he was telling people that he liked me and I was going to be his girlfriend soon. I liked that he was outspoken and confident. He assumed I was going to date him even though we barely knew each other. In middle school the boys were too shy to say they liked a girl or they just weren’t confident enough to confront her. But Angel was different. Not only was he cute, he had the courage to speak to me.

Angel continued to flirt with me, but I didn’t feel comfortable dating him. There was something about him I didn’t trust. Part of his outspoken confidence felt controlling. I also felt that he liked me just based on my looks.

I started to date Ryan, a sophomore in my Earth Science class. This made Angel jealous and one day he followed us to the train after school. He said things to Ryan, and suddenly I saw Angel’s fist flying in Ryan’s face. Ryan nearly fell over but didn’t, nor did he fight back. He just looked at me and said, “Let’s go.” We walked away, defeated. Angel shouted at us but I couldn’t make out what he said.

The incident confused me. Although I didn’t approve of Angel’s actions, another part of me felt wanted and special that he liked me enough to fight other guys for me. So I broke up with Ryan. I decided to give Angel a chance.

Playing Mind Games

I liked Angel because I thought he was attractive, confident, funny, and willing to fight for me. Those weren’t smart reasons to date someone, but he grabbed my attention in a way I couldn’t resist.

Almost immediately, I found out that just because someone wants to be with you doesn’t mean they respect you. On the first day he was already asking, “When are we going to have sex?” I felt uncomfortable and said, “We just started dating, and I’m not ready for that.”

It wasn’t only that he pressured me to have sex that made me want to turn back. He ignored me around his friends. When I asked him why he did that, he said he didn’t notice. Yet he continued.

He also flirted with other girls around me and seemed to like making me upset and jealous. He liked it when I scolded him for flirting. I felt as if he didn’t take me, or our relationship, seriously. I hated the girls he flirted with; some played along with his little game and it put me down deep.

image by YC-Art Dept

But I kept seeing him. We didn’t have sex. I told him over and over again that I wasn’t ready.

“Can we just do it once?” he begged.

“No, I just can’t,” I responded each time. At times I wanted to, but I feared he would tell his friends, and rumors would spread. I didn’t want anyone to look down on me like that.

He wasn’t all bad. When it was just the two of us, he was sweet. One day he bought me flowers. He made me a T-shirt that said “I LOVE YOU” with Minnie and Mickey Mouse on it holding hands in a heart. He met me at my train station each morning and we rode to school together, and then he’d do the same thing on the way home.

I was hoping we could be in a serious, mature relationship because I really wanted that and I thought I could try to make it work.

More Upset, More Arguments

Then about a month and a half later he started changing. He got in trouble a lot for things like pulling off the dean’s wig and fighting with other students. He got suspended a few times. He started hanging around his friends more after school instead of taking me home. He made excuses for not seeing me such as having football practice or not having a MetroCard.

After school one day in late January we walked to the train. He was clowning around with his friends, so when the train came I went into a different car. At the next stop he found me.

“Why you in this car?” he asked.

“Because you want to be with your friends all the time,” I snapped.

We rode the rest of the way in silence and when my stop came I got off without saying goodbye. I wanted him to admit he was hurting me and say that he was sorry. I wanted him to stop acting like a little boy and act like a young man in a mature relationship. It made me feel hurt that he didn’t care to resolve our arguments.

After that, he started to sit with other people during lunch. I started not to care as much.

“Just break up with him,” my friend Mary said.

“I know. I deserve better than him anyway.”

On Valentine’s Day, guess who got something? Well, it wasn’t me. Angel was barely paying attention to me. Winter break was coming up so I decided to leave him before school started up again.

But he got to it first. Three days before school started we had an argument over the phone.

“Why you never call me?” I asked

“I been busy. You can ask my brothers,” he said

“OK, but you always busy now,” I continued. Then I heard Angel yell to someone in the background.

“Yo bro, you want my girlfriend? She single now,” he said laughing. The phone went click. I was shocked. Did he just try to give me away to some guy? Did he just break up with me?

I never spoke to him again and if I saw him at school I’d wince and look in the other direction.

Feeling Respected Again

After Angel, I had a few other boyfriends; none emotionally abusive like him but no one who I felt was right for me. And sometimes, I would break up with them so I could hurt them before they hurt me. It took me about a year to stop reacting this way.

Although I am still attracted to good-looking, confident, tough guys, I learned not to jump into a relationship with them. Recently I met someone who I like a lot. I’m taking the time to see if we can talk and listen to each other. I like that he’s not rushing me and agrees that’s important.

This new guy doesn’t belittle me. He isn’t abusive. He makes me feel appreciated. He doesn’t try to pressure me into having sex before I’m ready. Although he is good looking and tough, he’s not violent and doesn’t start fights with other guys over me. I feel I can trust him with my heart. That’s the kind of relationship I want.

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(NYC-2018-05-10)