WASHINGTON, January 3, 2016 – At seven years old you are awakened at night by a loud commotion in the living room. You realize that you have endured this trauma many times before. Nevertheless, you rise up in your bed, your body shaking in fear and your heart full of dread and panic.
There are loud noises, some of it furniture crashing onto the floor and others small items being thrown about. Your mother and her boyfriend are arguing and fighting again. Each confrontation seems worse than the one before. Will this madness ever end, you ask yourself.
Your little brother awakens. He is four years old and crying. Coming to life, you dash over to his bed to hug and comfort him. Being brave, you assure him that everything is going to be all right. You know you are being less than honest but you have to calm him down and stop him from crying.
Suddenly, your fear is replaced by outright anger hearing your mother being tossed around like a rag doll. You leave your brother’s side to rush to her aid. What you witness alarms you. She is being violently choked into submission.
You leap on him, your little arms straining with all their might in a futile effort to pry his arms from around her throat. He looks at you with disdain and a mad man’s gaze and shoves you down hard onto the floor. You can tell he has been drinking again.
Getting up you kick him repeatedly in the shin and yell at him to let your mother go. Again, he bats you away. Suddenly, there is a loud knocking and yelling at the door. It is the police. A neighbor must have called the disturbance in. You do not care who summoned them, you only care that they arrived in time.
The boyfriend is arrested and taken away. Your mother, who is visibly shaken, is questioned by the police. And so are you. This is not the first time they have been called to your home. But this time things are different.
A Child Protective Investigator arrives. He questions you. A short while later, you and your brother are sitting in a strange government car with the strange government man, along with a few bags of clothing and one favorite toy.
Frightened, and rife with uncertainty, the image of your mother yelling and screaming, even begging them not to take you, reverberates inside of your head. Where are you and your brother being taken, you ponder?
That night, you are introduced to your foster parents and assigned a room. A day later you find yourself in a courtroom setting. You see your mother but your interaction with her is brief. Your brother did not make this trip. He is too young. You are returned to him and your new home after the court hearing.
You meet your case worker that afternoon who takes you with her to enroll you in a new school. You ask about your mother and if you will be going home to her soon. Her answer is vague and not reassuring.
You are not told but your mother is arrested days later for running a drug house, along with her jailed boyfriend. The two had been under investigation for months. She is going away for a long time…four years to be exact; he for ten years. When you are told this you are devastated.
Having no relatives who can pass a background check, or are able to care for you, you and your brother linger in the foster care system for years. When your mother is released from prison, she begins a new life with a new boyfriend. You and your brother are returned to her.
You are fourteen now and beginning to develop into a physically mature young lady. You have breasts and your young body has curves that were not there the year before. Your lips are fuller and you are wearing makeup, though its application is subtle.
Your mother’s boyfriend suddenly takes a keen interest in you. When mom works the late shift, he jokes around with you and is very playful…touching you and tickling you and wrestling with you. You think nothing of it at first.
One night, while your mother is at work, and your brother is visiting overnight with a friend, your mother’s boyfriend enters your room. You are lying across the bed reading a text book. You look up and watch as he makes a beeline over to you. He joins you on the bed. He is not wearing a shirt.
His close proximity and the wanton gaze in his eyes make you uncomfortable. His voice is soft and his conversation is seductive. It is not long before his hand is exploring the back of your thighs and your bottom. His breathing is audible and more rapid.
You roll away and attempt to get up but he grabs you around the waist and pulls you onto his lap. His hands are touching you everywhere imaginable. Why is he behaving this way, you ask yourself?
You protest loudly and forcibly but this only seems to arouse him more. Finally, you catch a break as he reaches over to turn off the lamp beside the bed. You strike him in the face, dash out of the room and out of the house, your blouse unfastened and your hair disheveled. You find safety in the home of a neighbor.
The police arrive on scene. You are questioned. Although he vehemently denies assaulting you sexually, your mother’s boyfriend is placed under arrest. Your mother arrives but is uncharacteristically quiet. But you do not make much of it.
You tell them everything that occurred in your home, that you were assaulted though not raped because you broke free of his grip and fled. Still, you are taken to a hospital where you test negative for digital penetration. You are looked down upon with raised eyebrows.
Returning home, your mother finally speaks her mind and what she says blows you away. She thinks you fabricated the whole thing. And if anything did happened, she says you probably initiated it. She accuses you of being flirtatious and too grown up for your own good.
Devastated, you feel abandoned and betrayed by the one person you thought would protect, support and believe in you. It is too much to bear. Days later, and feeling like your world is turned upside down, you run away. You find refuge at your best friend’s house.
Delinquent from school and now listed as a runaway, you are picked up by law enforcement two weeks later. Your mother’s boyfriend is out of jail, and because of a lack of evidence, is back in the home of your mother. You now find yourself standing front and center of another judge.
Insisting that you have no interest in returning home, and will run away again if returned there, you are placed in the care and jurisdiction of the court.
Too old to go into foster care, you are placed in a group home for girls. You are assigned a room with another girl a year older than you. On a rainy afternoon, you meet and are enrolled in another school by a new case worker, this one a male.
Later in the day, you are officially introduced to the eleven girls who live there, all of the staff members, and the cook. Then you are taken to the office of the administrator of the group home.
You are promptly given a speech about the rules and regulations of the home, the cleaning schedule, telephone access, and what will and will not be tolerated during your stay.
The transition is much like one would probably experience going from civilian life to military life. It is a regimented lifestyle. It is also an unstable lifestyle and one usually void of love.
What you cannot foresee is the three L’s and the complications accompanying them: love, life and lesbians.
All three are very present…and all three have consequences.
To be continued….
CS Bennett – Author of Court Ordered Custody and its sequel Court Approved Custody is about life in the state foster care system. Both books can be found on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble Online Bookstore.