Found My Voice
by Raquel B
(Cleveland, Ohio )
I’m only 16 years old. Some may say I'm still young, or what could a teenager know anything about life. Well the answer is this because I never was a kid. I had to make grown-up decisions my whole life.
It started when I was 2-4 years old. My mom sold my body for drug money. We went from begging with our mom on the street for food, to her making her own way of money to at least keep us in a house. She put coke and other soda pop in my bottle to where when my teeth grew in, they where black and dead so county custody came in and took us from my mom. I was 4 years old.
I was so scared. We got triaged, which is where they checked me and my big brother and little sister out. I got almost all of my teeth removed that day. We end up going to our grandma’s house. I loved her, and everything was going good, until Mother’s Day at school. I hated it. The kids used to tease me because I guess they thought I didn't have a mommy, but I acted out. Always suspended at school at only 5 years old, but by the time I was 7 I saw my mom and I didn't even recognized her. She started crying. I felt mad and asked her why you crying? She said because I didn't know that was my mom. I started to cry along with her because I thought she never would come back.
She had just got out of jail and dropped by Grandma’s house to drop a big bomb. She was pregnant with our baby brother. He was born in May 2009, addicted to heroin, so he went straight to foster care. My grandma was sick and couldn't take him. She died later that year in August.
We went to foster care as well, and went to permanent custody. There was nobody to take us, but few months later a family said they wanted our baby brother, but we all went there. I thought I was lucky to be somewhere With my siblings, but right away they told us they were forced to take us and we were ghetto and broken and couldn’t be fixed. I was little I didn't understand.
That was only the beginning.
Their biological son was touching me and trying to rape me. He made me touch his penis and lick it. I told. They didn't believe me, but my brother beat him up for it. They locked me outside or in my room or made me work and clean the whole house with my tooth brush, and if I wouldn't brush my
teeth with it later the lady shoved it down my throat. And if I didn't listen, she beat me with garden tools and any object near by. They did it to tell the therapist that it was my big brother that was touching me instead of their son.
The abuse got so bad that by 9 years old I wanted to die. I told them that. And they said, "You know where the knives are" or I said I would jump out my window and kill myself. They held me dangling by my feet out the window and asked me when it was ok to drop me, when she could let go. I cried, peed my pants, and said I was sorry so she brought be back in the window. She threw me against the wall and told me she won't ask next time. She will just drop me.
I got so tired of being hurt. They said that as long as I say what they wanted me to say I no longer would have get hurt. So I told the therapist that my big brother was touching me. I felt horrible. They took my big brother out of the home and it was better for a little bit, then things got bad again. They locked me outside naked because I kept running away to tell someone. Nobody believed me. They said the family where good people.
When I was outside naked I wouldn't go anywhere in the winter. I was allowed to get shorts and a blanket. I ate rancid peanut butter and jelly or a piece of moldy bologna and one glass of water a day. Then it stopped. They where treating me nice for a couple weeks, then the would beat my little sister in front of me, tell me to join in, but I said no stop don't hurt her. She was only 6 years old. I hated them. I threw a step stool at the woman, and she stopped and turned and said, tell your sister to tell the social workers that you where touching her and she won't get hit anymore.
The next day, they called my social worker. I was removed from the home, and my sister too because the family said that my little sister was a threat to our baby brother. To this day, I haven’t seen my baby brother and can’t see him until year 2027 when he turns 18.
My other siblings are just now starting to reconnect, but I struggle because there's no one to go to so I can file an abuse case because it’s been so many years. I just found my voice, but can't do anything with it besides tell my story.