Content warning: This article mentions sexual and physical violence.
Going through my closet, I knew exactly what I wanted to wear. It was white mini shorts painted delicately and a regular Egyptian cotton t-shirt. After putting it on, I was physically restrained. “Little Muslim girls don’t wear shorts!,” my foster parents exclaimed.
My abusive foster parents squinted at me as I shouted back, “It is an African summer. What is wrong with you?”
My foster parents, who had openly admitted to their terrorist ties in the Islamic brotherhood, taught me how to dress.
During another restless summer in Cairo, Egypt, I headed to the local club. “Hey Rola, I mith you!,” I exclaimed with a solid lisp from a speech impediment I had. The speech therapy had not fixed my disability yet. After my foster parents saw me holding hands with Rola, they told me I cannot hang out with Rola anymore. “Egyptian girls grow up to marry men and have babies!”
They tore me apart from Rola. I had her phone number scribbled on a piece of paper that they ripped up. I begged for mercy, as I was crying on the floor.
It was another hot night in Egypt when I decided to sleep on the balcony. “Only prostitutes sleep outside in their balconies! Are you a prostitute?,” my foster parents exclaimed. This led to a struggle where they verbally abused me and threw different objects such as a vase at me. They forcefully locked me outside the apartment. Sleeping on the balcony was a way out of being in this prison of a foster home.
Summers in Egypt as a dual citizen always meant trouble as I would end up homeless after arguments with my foster parents. I mean, the horror continued in America too. I remember getting raped by my foster father in front of my playmates at my American house in 2009 in Cupertino, CA. Also, in 2014, after I turned 14 years old, my friends tried to stone me to death during a Girl Scouts Camp. The cabin was five stars, but my depression as well as deteriorating health after this traumatic event became a complete downfall.
On my 14th birthday, I realized I had already been disowned and orphaned by all the systems meant to protect me. A therapist at my Islamic Sunday school reported my foster parents to Child Protective Services. Still, seven reports later, the investigations were barely getting investigated. I faced constant victim blaming and slut shaming by all the psychiatrists and psychologists, such as from my South Asian psychiatrist who called me a doll.
I wore my headscarf as a cultural expression through thick and thin for an entire decade before I took it off. Dirty and ripped clothes meant a little girl who was raped behind closed doors and out in the open, a little girl who never got opportunity. Oppression is the lack of services everywhere, I believe. It was the strategic silences that were normalized which killed me internally.
There were strangers who turned away as if to cover their vision from the sight of me. There was running away from friends when I was sexually harassed, and berating from the community about never staying. I never stayed, but mentally, I never left those wretched places. Physically, I feel the pain, and subconsciously, I relive the trauma on a never-ending film strip in my brain. Who knew trauma could keep a little girl from healing, properly grieving, and developing? From my virginity and friendships to mental health and clothing, there is nothing more for me to lose than what I have already lost.
Other news outlets don’t cover child welfare and juvenile justice like we do.
News for people, not for profit.