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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Therapy Changed My Life

Therapy helped me let out a lot of anger I had locked inside. It changed my life, and it could change your life. It helped me to better myself.

My father, whose name is Ron, used to beat me a lot for no reason at all (he was drunk about 99.9% of the time). He used to make me and my older brother Kevin go to the store and buy him beer and condoms. He sent us for condoms because he would have several females coming to the house (not all at once). My father didn't care what time of day it was, he would make us run errands for him. I was only a young kid when I was being sent on errands.

As I got older, things got worse. One day my father went out and left me with one of his co-workers named Tracy. I never knew why my father did this. Tracy and I were in the living room watching T.V. and Tracy asked me if anybody was in the back room. I said no. I didn't think anything else about it. Tracy went in the back room and called me. I went in the back room. Tracy was sitting on one of the beds. Tracy called me over, so I went.

'I Was Very Afraid'

Next thing I knew, Tracy unzipped my pants and pulled them down. I was only eight and I was very afraid. Then Tracy pulled down my underwear. Tracy told me to lay down on the bed, so I did. Tracy did the same thing I was told to do. Then Tracy lay down on the bed and forced me to have oral sex with her. This was my first sexual experience.

Later that night when it was all over, my brother Kevin came home and I told him what happened. My brother took me to a friend of my father's named Macho because he didn't know where my father was and he trusted Macho.

Macho, who lived right around the corner, at first had mixed feelings when he heard what happened. He had known Tracy for so long that he couldn't believe Tracy would do such a thing. On the other hand, Macho trusted me and knew that I wouldn't lie to him.

I didn't know it, but Tracy had followed Kevin and me to Macho's house. When Tracy came in, Macho took his cane and started hitting Tracy until Tracy was just about unconscious. Then Macho's wife called the cops.

The next thing I knew I was in the police station with my father and brother. I remember telling lots of cops and a therapist what happened. I remember having to demonstrate in front of some people with two dolls.

I also remember the expression on my father's face when Ron and I were alone. It looked like he was upset, but not because of what Tracy did. Instead, it looked like he was mad at me for making him go through all this trouble. It was like I could read my father's mind, which said, "Damn! Why did you have to put me through all this bullsh-t?"

The Abuse Gets Worse

I went back home. I don't know if charges were ever pressed against Tracy. There was one good thing that came out of my ordeal-I never saw Tracy again. This experience was traumatic because Tracey was so much older than me and really unattractive. Just imagine being forced to have oral sex, or any kind of sex, with your grandmother or your grandfather. That's an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

As I got older, my life with my father got worse. For a while he had stopped abusing me and Kevin, but after his girlfriend was killed in a car accident he started drinking, gambling, and abusing us mentally, physically, and verbally all over again. My Aunt Maroline decided to send me to my cousin's house when she found out what was going on.

But my cousin contributed to my problems by verbally and physically abusing me. I was thinking of running away, but I didn't know how.

One day when I was in the library I saw a book called "I Hate School. "In the back of the book I saw the phone number for Covenant House. I called and made arrangements to go there the following day.

The next day I put on three pairs of socks, two pair of pants, two shirts, and my flight jacket. In my book bag I had clothes instead of books. My cousin had no idea what I was doing because I packed my bag behind her back. When I stepped out the door I was very happy, because I felt I was leaving hell and going to heaven.

When I went to Covenant House, I was a little shaky about telling perfect strangers my problems, telling them things I had never told anyone else before.

Gaining My Trust

While I was there I had to see a therapist. It was mandatory. I was in the waiting area for quite a while. Then I heard my name called.

The therapist's name was Dr. Smith. I told Dr. Smith how my father abused me, and how I ended up living with my abusive cousin. And when I spoke about how I was abused sexually, mentally, verbally, and spiritually, I cried, and Dr. Smith would, too. That's when I realized that she was there to help me and not to hurt me.

image by Rafael Manashirov

Dr. Smith gained my trust in many different ways. One way she gained my trust was when my caseworker was going to send me back to my cousin's house. Dr. Smith fought to keep me from going back because she believed I was telling the truth.

A Long Conversation

Another way she gained my trust was when I got "dumped" by a girl I really cared about and was on the brink of suicide. I was standing on the sidewalk crying. Dr. Smith was going to her car, about to go home, when she saw me shivering.

She came over and asked me what was wrong and I said nothing. She knew something was wrong, so she walked me to her office. After about ten minutes of silence I finally told her. The conversation wasn't over until an hour and a half later.

After that, I felt like I was floating on air. I trusted Dr. Smith more than ever because she worked overtime and without pay just to help me with my problem. If I went to my father with a problem like that, he'd probably laugh in my face and walk away.

From then on I felt that it wasn't just a therapist-client kind of thing. I felt it was a friendship and that we had an understanding with one another.

I had so much anger locked in for so long it almost drove me crazy. Every time I told my story to other counselors at Covenant House, I would add a little more because I was feeling more and more comfortable talking to people about my situation.

After a month or so I was placed in a group home in Queens. It was much more peaceful because it was on beachfront property. Whenever I was upset and didn't feel like talking to anyone, I would go out on the beach, sit down on the sand, and let the roars of the ocean tides cause my anger to drift away.

Uncomfortable With New Therapist

I didn't feel comfortable around the group home therapist. The group home therapist was a male. I felt more comfortable talking to a female about my problems, because Dr. Smith was like the mother I never had.

I stopped going to the group home therapist after the first session because somehow he found out that I was a pyromaniac (a person who sets fires). Dr. Smith had told me I set fires out of anger.

The group home therapist seemed more aggressive and more in a rush than Dr. Smith. He didn't make me feel comfortable. All he did was ask me the same questions ("Do you fantasize about fire? Do you dream about fire? Are there voices in your head telling you to start fires?") twenty times in one minute (which annoyed the hell out of me). When he asked me if I wanted to talk about anything else (he did all the talking), I said no and left.

Finding a therapist who is right for you isn't always easy, but if do you find one that is right for you, don't let 'em go. If Dr. Smith was the therapist for my group home, I'd still be going to therapy. I still keep in contact with her because she's my best friend. From sessions with Dr. Smith, I learned that you don't have to be crazy to see a psychiatrist.

Even after therapy, I sometimes feel guilty and depressed. I wonder if, by running away from my cousin's house, I hurt my aunt who had me moved there. (My aunt says she still loves me.)

Covering Up His Feelings

As for my brother Kevin, he has always stood by me. He never wanted anything to happen to me. But Kevin doesn't want to deal with his anger. Once, I told Kevin about the abuse at my cousin's house. Kevin said, "Is she feeding you? Is she giving you clothes?" I said yes, but she wasn't doing enough positive things to cover up the negative things that she was doing to me. Kevin never really wanted to hear about the negative. I didn't know why. We're different that way. I feel it's always better to look at a problem directly.

For example, Kevin still loves my father, even after all the stuff he put him through. Kevin is trying to cover up his feelings, but I don't think he should. I think that's why Kevin catches a temper sometimes (much quicker than I do).

You can't criticize Kevin about one thing, even if it's constructive. I think Kevin should go to therapy like I did, because even though he's 20 and I'm 16, I'm more mature because I know how to control my anger by expressing it. I don't pretend everything's all right.

I still have a temper that I occasionally let out, mostly to counselors, sometimes to residents, and to my editor, Sean Chambers. But I'm much better at dealing with it than I was before.

If you have problems, don't keep them locked in or they will affect your life more than you think. If you keep your anger locked in, you might end up abusing your kids. Then they will either continue the cycle of abuse or run away from home like I did.

Are you a caring adult looking for more stories to help your youth? Go to, a resource for the front-line staff in schools and community based programs to help teens who are struggling with difficult emotions.

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