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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Introduction: That One Person
Represent staff

Why do some foster kids bounce back from terrible abuse and neglect, while others seem unable to move past it?

People who study resilience believe that several things protect a person from being forever damaged by the trauma they’ve experienced—whether that trauma was from child abuse, surviving a war or natural disaster, or some other awful experience.

These “protective factors” include self-control, motivation to succeed, faith or belief in something bigger than yourself, and shared culture and community. And at the top of the list is something very simple—at least one close, trusting relationship. When it comes to
treating trauma, love and connection heal more than anything else.

In this issue, our writers describe how they found that one caring person, how they built a relationship with them, and how that relationship helped them heal. Several writers describe excellent therapists who helped them open up and understand themselves. Shateek Palmer’s therapist (“A Life Changer") played cards with him, held their sessions in a diner, and went to his basketball games. E.F.’s therapist (“Outgrowing My Therapist") helped raise her self-esteem by pointing out all the ways she’d progressed and the troubles she’d transcended.

Siblings can often be that “caring person,” but sibling relationships are both more important and more complicated for youth in care. The author of “Batman and Robin") can’t understand why her little brother is smacked and yelled at for playing with dolls and painting his nails. She sticks up for him against homophobic relatives and they form a dynamic duo. Tatiana Gonzales and her sister grew apart when they reacted differently to their mom’s drug abuse and their going into care. But they eventually used those different styles to support each other and come back together. Similarly, the author of “Sisters Sticking Together" starts out picking on her little sister because their abusive mom seems to love the younger girl more. The girls figure out that their mom victimizes them both and plays them against each other; they become allies and support for each other.

Other writers celebrate their mentors, adoptive parents, and best friends. We hope this issue helps you figure out who you can trust, how to open up to them, and why it’s worth the risk.

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