by Gloria Meza
This memory keeps replaying in my head, and when it does, I feel this sense of pain, fear and as if I’m all alone. After my brother finished brutally beating me, I ran into my restroom, locked the door and began to cry. As I cried, I watched the drops of blood run from my nose and fall onto my knees that were so far pushed into my chest, I could feel the vibration of my heart pounding on them. I was scared out of my mind, all I wanted was to be safe and warm. With my mother and sister Brenda allowing the abuse to go on, and with my other two sisters (Stella and Thalia) being in federal prison, I felt trapped and alone. This unbearable pain I felt all my childhood is indescribable. When I reported the abuse the first time and was questioned by the police, I felt I wasn’t being heard, taken seriously and as if they didn’t believe me. When child services intervened, I hoped and prayed to be taken away from these people I feel damned to call my family. The only thing done was kick him out and threaten my mother to take me from her custody if she were to let him live with us again. For some that may sound fair, but it really wasn’t. How could I live with people that put me in danger? I should have been put in another home away from my mother and Brenda, I’m safer with strangers than with these people; I know my mother, she’ll put him over me no matter the situation, I know for a fact my mother was going to let him in again. Sadly, the social worker didn’t see it that way. As I was forced to stay with my mother, where I was being resented, I constantly feared the thought of my mother letting him in. Every sound, even the slightest touch on my shoulder would startled me. Nightmares and flashbacks began to happen. My brother was once a construction worker and an electrician, and when there was road work being done among the streets, the workers who wore yellow vests made me feel immediately ill as if I was in danger again because my mind was convinced it was my brother. I began seeking therapy and was diagnosed with PTSD. I was on a long road to recovery. As I began taking medication, my everyday nightmares lessened to 5 days a week, a big deal to me. Even though I was still having flashbacks, having a good night’s sleep 2 days out of the week was progress which wasn’t easy. I was proud of the progress I was making, and thanks to my incredible therapist, psychologist and UCLA medical students that have helped me progress. All that time, effort and progress I was making was soon thrown away because my mother had let him back in again. I reported it for the second time and stayed with my cousin in the meantime, I was certain they would finally take me away, having that in the back of my mind as I reported it was comforting. I told myself “I don’t ever have to see my mother again” which also brought a sense of relief. Well it was a big “sike, ha you thought,” all they did was – again kick him out and threaten my mother (FOR THE SECOND TIME) if she were to let him in they’ll take me away. I refused to go back, they didn’t do what they were supposed to do. They should have taken me away from my mother for child endangerment, but they didn’t. I put my foot down, enough was enough, I demanded my social worker to get me out of there to which he replied, “let me talk to my supervisor.” I didn’t hear back from my social worker after that, even though I was constantly leaving him voicemails. Meanwhile I remained with my cousin, only to find that when my mother was forced to kick my brother out, he stayed with a friend that was one house down the street I was staying. I couldn’t get away from my abuser, everywhere I turned he was there. I had to decide between, living in a house away from him or staying with my mom knowing she’ll let him back in again. I was trapped. I was forced to move back with my mother where at least it would buy me some time before I got beat again. I began getting flashbacks or, as I call them “episodes,” along with nightmares. This time the pain felt different, it was changing me into a cruel person towards men. I lost my faith, for many reasons but mainly because I didn’t want to praise a man, as well as I feared men, I felt like every man that entered my life was going to leave me or beat me. I remember an incident: I had seen a homeless man laying down on the street asking for money, when he asked me for money I replied “ no” something I don’t normally do because I knew the struggle of being homeless, I knew how it felt to ask for money, but I said no because in my head I immediately thought “you probably don’t deserve it because you just came out of jail for beating a woman.” I knew that was wrong, and I know it’s a horrible way to live life, assuming every man beats women, but the thing is, having that mentality makes me feel safe. It’s hard to explain but think of it like this: parents always tell their children to not talk to strangers that the “stranger danger method” prevents you from running into “bad” strangers. Now, don’t get the sense that I completely despise what I went through because I don’t, it’s bad, but it has also allowed me to have a strong desire to help woman that’ve been abused like me. For example, it led me into the arms of law, more specifically I want to be a lawyer and eventually change laws that make woman feel defeated under the justice system. For instance, when woman have been physically abused, sexually abused and even raped and report it they must face their abuser in court. I also want to fix the department of child services as well as the foster system, which I mainly must thank my social worker for that, for never returning my calls and leaving me out to dry. Surely all these changes I want to make lead me to participate in Teen Court, take two ELAC classes (psychology and communication studies) as well as volunteer in women and children homeless shelters. I’ve met some incredibly strong woman at the shelters I volunteer in whom I exchange my story with along as them sharing theirs, they repeatedly mention to me to not allow my abuser to get the best of me and to live my best life, and the fact that my voice wasn’t heard should make me work harder to make sure the next woman is. I’ll be graduating soon and turning 18 in November which is the light at the end of the tunnel for me because legally I won’t be forced to live with my mother. I want to deeply thank Jessica Ramirez for being able to express my story in the best possible way along with the editors, Ms. Garcia, who allowed me to share my story and also for being a teacher who truly cares about her students, my counselor Mrs. Lopez for guiding me, my sister Stella and Thalia for risking their futures so I can have a roof over my head and everyone who took the time to read my story. I’ve been feeling resentment from my mother and Brenda for so long and to finally hear people tell me they support me and stand with me truly means the world to me.