Content warning: This article mentions suicidal ideation.
When I was 16 months old, I was placed in the foster care system. My biological mom had four kids before me and all of them were removed from her custody. I was placed in a foster home where one of my biological brothers had already been adopted. The Department of Human Services (DHS) wanted to keep us together, so the same family adopted me as well.
As far back as I can remember, things weren’t right in our family. My adoptive mom would get really mad at my brother and I, and she would hit us. By the time I was 9, I had been hospitalized twice for suicidal ideations. I didn’t know what abuse was, and I didn’t know that what was happening to me wasn’t normal. My mom was incredibly manipulative. She could make people believe anything. The first time I told anyone that my mom was abusing me, I was 9. It was the last day of third grade, and I was terrified to spend three months at home. I told my teacher, and when I got home from school that day, the cops showed up at our door. They stayed for four hours, but by the time they left, my mom had convinced them that I had made the whole thing up.
The abuse got worse after that. For three more years, I suffered in silence. Then, when I was 12, I ended up in a treatment facility after my mom made false accusations that I threatened her. For a while, the staff and therapists believed her, but then they realized that her stories didn’t add up and asked me for my side of the story. When I told them, they believed me. They filed a report with DHS, and a caseworker came to visit me to talk about everything. When my mom found out that the department wanted to open a case, she came to the facility without notice and took me to a new facility where, once again, she spun tales of how I was a monster and she was the victim. After a few months, I was sent back home.
I was home for less than a month when I decided I had enough of the abuse. Nobody was listening to me. I would rather have died than live in that house for one more day. I went to school one morning knowing that no matter what I had to do, I would not be going home. It took me standing a hundred feet from the I-225 highway ready to commit suicide before DHS took me seriously and pulled me out of that house. I was only 12. I promised that if they ever sent me back to live with my mom, I would kill myself. They sent me to a residential treatment facility that specializes in kids who had been abused. For the first time in my life, I was safe.
Even though I was finally in a “safe” place, the trauma of the past 12 years of my life haunted me so badly that I could not trust anyone. I was so angry at everyone and everything. It took nine months to finally feel safe enough to start healing. I have never felt more powerless and helpless than I did when I lived in that house. I was trying to get someone to listen to me, to save me. It’s not a feeling I ever want to know again. The one person who finally listened to me saved my life that day. My life hasn’t been easy since then, but I got a second chance and that’s all I was asking for.