KATE, 17

The sound of the school bus driving away was overshadowed by the sound of her dad screaming in the house. At age ten, Kate was in the fifth grade. She’ll always remember the day her parents told her they were getting a divorce. It was her last day of school and she had made a craft just for them, a homemade frame with their family picture.

The same frame hung in her mother’s house, with her dad cut out of the photo, for two years. The picture always made Kate smile when she cooked dinner for her siblings, paid the phone bill and made sure her mom went to work. The picture reminded Kate of the family she never really had, only pretended to have.  The day the Department of Child Services removed Kate from her mother’s house on charges of neglect, Kate was not allowed to go back inside to take the picture with her.

Not much changed when Kate moved in with her dad. She noticed how her body was changing and she was beginning to look like her old babysitter. Kate was embarrassed that she was starting to look more mature. Was it her fault that her dad and his friends were sexually attracted to her? Kate didn’t know what to do to make the scary touching stop. One night, Kate woke up and found her dad on the living room couch with a friend… hitting a crack pipe!  Kate’s Dad offered her a “smoke.”  Stunned, not knowing what to do, Kate sat down on the couch and tried crack for the first time with her dad.   Instantly, she was hooked.  The drugs made her numb. She did not have to feel anymore. Kate did not go to school the next day, or the day after.  Even though Kate had taken care of so many people, no one seemed interested in taking care of her.

Two years later, Kate still had not been to school.  She was completely addicted to crack and was prostituting herself to her Dad’s friends for money and drugs.  The police raided a hotel room where Kate was found; high, and in bed with a 57 year old man.  Kate was taken into custody and entered into rehab.  Once clean, she went into foster care and enrolled in school.

Referred by a High School counselor, who noticed poor grades and attention seeking behavior, Kate came to Prevail at age 17.  For the first time in her life, she was able to open up about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father and his friends.  She joined the sexual assault group, where she met other girls her age who could relate to her experiences.  Kate graduated from High School last year and is living out west.  Now, she is far away from her past and attending college.