Let’s Talk About “Grace”
Grace’s parents divorced before she was 12. She felt alone, rejected, and abandoned. When her older sister became pregnant at 15, her mother became consumed with the grandchild. Grace felt ignored entirely. To fill this void, Grace started hanging around with a crowd that influenced her to try alcohol, drugs, and sexual activity. If Grace showed up at home more than 5 minutes late, the police and her mother met her and had her taken to the Juvenile Detention Center. At this point, the only adult interaction or attention she had received was filled with disdain, annoyance, and consequence.
When Grace was 14, a friend came to pick her up and take her back to her house for a cookout. Unfortunately, Grace never made it to the cookout. Instead, her “friend” sold her to three men for drugs. These men forced heroin into her veins, keeping her in a catatonic state for three days while they sexually assaulted her repeatedly. On the third day, as the effects of the heroin began to wear off, Grace was able to escape her captors. Physically abused and mentally traumatized, Grace managed to make her way to a gas station where a police officer just happened to pull in. Grace was returned home, where her mother had not even reported her missing, assuming that she had run away. After experiencing three full days of pain and terror, she returned home to be told that she wasn’t even missed.
Haunted by her ghosts of trauma that never healed and continued emotional neglect at home, Grace sought the comfort she so desperately needed from wherever she could. Not knowing what a safe, healthy relationship looked like (let alone that she deserved one), Grace found herself in an abusive relationship and pregnant with her first child by the time she was just 17. Unable to break the cycle of abuse, Grace stayed. She didn’t know she had other options. No one ever told Grace that she was worthy of kindness and that real love shouldn’t hurt. When Grace became pregnant with her 3rd child, her mother stepped in with Child Protective Services and took custody of her two older children. After losing her children, Grace decided to leave the abusive relationship but then found herself homeless and, once again, pregnant. She bounced from home to home, wherever she could stay for a few days. The feelings of being alone, rejected, and abandoned were magnified.
When Grace contacted FYI for help, she stayed in a car during the coldest part of January with her four-month-old baby. She was on the waiting list for the Family Violence Protection Center. A generous donor helped us get her into a hotel temporarily while she waited to secure a safe environment for her and her young baby. She was in the FVPC for less than two weeks before being removed for drug possession. She was assigned to a drug rehab program, and her baby was placed into custody by Child Protective Services. Grace once again found herself homeless, alone, rejected, and abandoned with little hope.
Unfortunately, this story is accurate and not uncommon for many of the clients we meet. Throughout her life, there were many opportunities for someone to step in to help Grace. There were ample chances for one person to show concern and compassion for her situation. One of the things Grace told us during her time with us was that she wished she’d found us sooner. It is hard to imagine what her life might have been like if someone had attempted to break the endless cycle of abuse, poverty, and addiction Grace found herself in.
While we fully recognize that it is beyond our control or scope to help everyone, we have a saying around the FYI office, “We just need to help one.” If one person shatters the bonds of generational trauma, takes a protective stance against those who mean them harm, and leaves our programming knowing their value, we have succeeded.
We want to answer any questions you might have and give you any additional information that may assist you in helping that person in your life who may need it. This cannot done alone. Every person who spreads FYI’s mission, recommends our services, or donates their time or resources adds something compelling to the FYI family. We will provide you with the resources to become a cycle breaker.