Before I was born, my mother and father abused drugs, therefore when I was born, I was also addicted to crack cocaine. I would scream until my older sister would take care of me and feed me sugar water to stop the screaming. Growing up, I had three siblings, two older sisters and a younger brother. All of us were in and out of the foster care system cause my parents refused to get their shit together. When we would live with my parents, we would end up losing the house; living in cars, motels, under bridges, etc. At 9 and 6, me and my brother would help my mom steal from stores so we could get toys or food. I watched my mom held at gunpoint when we lived in the projects over drugs twice. My moms mother (mamaw) tried to take care of us, but she would get ill, leaving us as bait for foster parents who sought money. (Not anyone wants 4 siblings unless it’s for money in the system). I was 12 when my mamaw passed, so us 4 kids were up for adoption. We got separated cause no family was looking to adopt 4 kids. Me and my sister Megan (who I’ve always been called or compared to) moved in with a middle-class family. The other two kids, Kristen and Logan, moved into a family that wouldn’t let me have contact with them for no apparent reason. I still do not get to see my brother. Anyways, the family me and Megan moved in with had two kids already. It was Dad, Mom, Josh who played football, and Jasmine who did cheer, and they had a dog. Pretty normal right? And coming from nothing, to me that seemed like a dream. It started out fine, only that the wife Jessie decided she didn’t want to adopt us anymore. David, the farther, for defensive and she responded “I don’t like the way you look at Megan” (my sister who is 3yrs older). He ignored her and we all noticed they had an abnormal “father-daughter” relationship. Her jealousy lead to their divorce, which also lead to money problems. He was a pastor of a church & worked as a foster care agency coordinator & she worked as a secretary for the same agency. We moved new houses and then it became just me, Megan, David. It was Christmas Eve night and I was 13. He asked us to sleep in his bed because he was “too lonely” after his divorce. We had done it a bunch of times prior and nothing weird ever happened so I didn’t think anything about it. I was so young I blamed myself for his divorce, thinking it was my fault he was alone & I owed it to him. That night I woke up to him slipping his hand down my pants. I didn’t know what to do or think, it was all so shocking I just laid there. I didn’t want to believe it was happening so I forced myself to believe it wasn’t. That’s all he did at first, but every night it got worse and worse. He started asking us to sleep with him almost every night and j didn’t want to say no, because my sister had a close relationship with him and I was scared. I had no other family, no one to reach out to who I thought would believe me. The secretive touching lead to comments around the house & text messages. Everyone at church believed he was saving lives and all I could think was how much he ruined mine. It kept escalating more & more. He was also a control freak. He would take away my makeup and nice clothes and pick out my outfits for school which was always awful of course. I wasn’t allowed to like boy bands or rap music because that’s “idolizing” which is a sin. I never had social media in high school. He wouldn’t let me have any friends, I never attended a football game in high school, I never got to experience being a real teenager. . He went through all my things, I wasn’t allowed to talk to boys or anything. He would scream at me, ground me, talk to me like I was gum on the bottom of his shoe, make me feel so worthless. But I was his trophy. He saw me every waking minute of the day when I wasn’t at school. I pretended my life was perfect to everyone because it made the days go by easier, and all I was waiting on was to turn 18 and get out myself. I got a job at CFA at 15 which kept me out of the house and I fell in love with working. If I was late getting home before my sister, I was grounded cause he didn’t have his chance. When I turned 16, I went out on a limb. What’s the worst that could happen? He had already done everything else. I met a guy named Adam at work who lived in England & I had a strict parent so it didn’t matter that I couldn’t see my boyfriend. He was in the states on a trip when I met him. I became really close with him and a girl Shelby at my school. I began to talk to my sister Kristen and my parents through Adam on email. October of 2013, David went on a hunting trip & it was just me and Megan at home. He was texting me asking me to be his girlfriend, and he has never taken it that far. He told me he wanted me to be his for the rest of our lives and he was in love with me. I freaked out, told him that he adopted me as a daughter and I would never feel the same towards him. He was fumed at my response & threatened me that I was dead to him when he got home & all my stuff was getting taken again. I freaked out & started screaming and crying, throwing all my things in my room around because nothing mattered. Megan came running in my room, “WHATS WRONG WHATS WRONG AMBER.” And I just threw my phone at her, “READ IT FOR YOURSELF.” After I realized what I did, I quit crying, but I was more scared than I had ever been living there. I knew at that moment nothing would ever be the same. She then began to cry & fill my head with all these stories about how we were gonna move out together and since she was 19 she would make sure that would never happen again. I told my boyfriend and my best friend that day as well, knowing they would support me too. All it took was an hour conversation with him in my bedroom floor between all 3 of us for her to change her mind. She told me to give him another chance, and he SWORE he would never touch me again. He told me and my sister “I thought she wanted it and that’s why I kept doing it.” So I did. I tried running away after 3 days because of how awkward everything was. I was so traumatized into believing he was a saint. I didn’t even want him to catch charges for it cause I still blamed myself. But nothing stopped. Everything escalated just like before, except a hundred times quicker. In just a month, he was already in my bedroom and trying to carry me to his after I had fallen asleep. I woke up with my hand in his pants before school one morning & I pulled away and started crying & he told me it was all my fault and if I told Megan, he would make my life hell. So I went to school crying and my friend shelby carried me to guidance and made me tell. I had never met my counselor & my sister was texting me asking where I was. I turned my phone off and they both showed up at my school together. I let my sister in the office, knowing she could support me and have my back. When she walked in, she sat there and told them I was making it all up. And that he would never do that to me. I cussed at her and made her leave, and they put me back in foster care. they still live together in a house and I have no contact with either of them. He’s facing charges soon. I grew to love my new home with my foster mom, who always supplied my needs. I can’t imagine my life if I didn’t get out of that place or how different things would have turned out. I still don’t understand why my sister betrayed me. I’ve had counseling about it but that’s one of those things I can’t bring myself to understand. And why I still have to carry his last name instead of my old one. If it wasn’t for God’s love and grace, I wouldn’t be here today. I now work for an amazing cosmetic company and i graduated with a 3.3 GPA. Today makes 3 years since I told for the first time.
— Amber, age 19