Growing up life taught me that adults could not be trusted, that I was not important. I was quiet and lost myself in books to escape the harsh reality that was my everyday life. School was where I felt closest to being happy because I was with friends and didn’t have to be at home.
Growing up, “Home” was wherever my father brought me. I spent time at many different relatives’ houses in Cambridge, Hyde Park and other parts of Boston. My life was in constant upheaval. To survive I needed to take it one day at a time and focus on the things I could control: school, chores and protecting the younger children around me.
Today, I’m a survivor of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. My healing has been a long journey and Crossroads played an important role. When I was in middle school a friend told a teacher about what I was going through. DCF interceded and removed me from my home. I met my favorite social worker, Genie, and went to my first foster home.
School remained my safe haven and although life was better I didn’t know how to cope with what I’d been through. I was depressed in middle school and self-harmed. Luckily, one of my teachers intervened before I could attempt suicide and I was sent to an all-girls group home to start healing and focusing on getting better.
Soon after arriving to the group home I was paired with a new foster mom and was excited about finally having a safe space that wasn’t school. Before my foster mom could take me a social worker recommended I go to Camp Mitton, one of Crossroads’ overnight camps. I had no idea my life was about to get turned upside down, but this time for good reasons.
Stepping on to the field at Mitton I felt like I was finally “home.” I wasn’t ready to open up about my life, but the staff was so welcoming and thoughtful I knew they cared about me and feeling their warmth was a new experience for me.
Each day I trusted the people around me more and more and pushed myself to try new things. In the dining halls, I discovered my love for dancing and expressing myself. Camp helped me to reconnect with myself, to open up after being closed in for so long and enjoy life. I started to make goals for myself and live life to the fullest instead of just surviving day-to-day.
Getting into the C5 Leaders program took things to a totally different level for me. It was still family, but now I was in a leadership program and that was not how I ever saw myself. But Crossroads did.
The past five years with my Crossroads family have helped me to believe in myself and see that I’ve always been capable of leadership and of so much more.
Instead of allowing myself to be trapped by what I’ve been through, Crossroads has helped me to redefine myself and be more than what I’ve been through. I’ve nurtured my love of dancing and used my natural discipline and attention to detail to push myself and become an advocate for young women surviving abuse to find healthy ways to express and believe in themselves.
For my C5 Leaders Senior Community Service Project (Medallion Project) I created a dance series for young ladies who are on their own healing journey. My experience as a trauma survivor has shown me that verbal communication isn’t always easy. I see dancing as a non-verbal way to express emotion and process pain. Creating a dance series to promote positive emotional health has been a way for me to give back some of the support I’ve received.
I don’t know what my life would be like without Crossroads, but I can say that with it I’m eagerly anticipating graduating from the Boston Arts Academy and excited to attend Salem State University in the fall. I plan on majoring in chemistry, minoring in psychology and managing a pre-med track course load. With Crossroads my life has been fuller and more beautiful than I could imagine and there’s so much more I have to look forward to.