My name is Alma* (name has been changed to protect her identity). I grew up with my dad and my stepmom.
I never had a good relationship with my dad. He was very physically and mentally aggressive with me. At 13, he started to abuse me physically.
Everyone thought my dad was a good person because he acted the part when people were around. But when no one was around, he changed into a different person.
When I was 14, I got pregnant through his abuse. He made me get an abortion.
He told me that no one would believe me if I said anything. And I believed him, because he seemed so loving and caring to everyone else.
Even after the abortion, his abuse continued.
I got pregnant a second time.
When he found out, he beat me saying, “You did this. Your boyfriend got you pregnant.” But I didn’t even have a boyfriend.
One day he was beating me, and I had the courage to do something. I thought, “God, if this is the day I’m going to die, then fine. But if not, then this is the day You have to help me run away from my dad.”
Even though he made me think that no one would believe my story, I told the cops. They did believe me and they put me in a program. But I was always afraid to go outside because of my dad’s family. They had heard that I was pregnant and had run away and he had told them that I had snuck around with my boyfriend and brought shame to the family.
Because of the danger of staying there, my case worker found the Phoenix Dream Center. So I got on a plane for Phoenix.
I left everyone… my friends, my brothers and sisters, my step-mom.
The day I came here, I threw up I was so upset. But the staff has made me feel comfortable. And slowly, I began to feel like I was part of the family.
I finally finished high school and I just received my diploma in the mail. Sometimes I tried to quit, but the girls here encouraged me to finish. They told me I have to keep going.
I want to go to college to be a lawyer for child advocacy. I hate injustice, so I will fight for justice.
Thank you to everyone, even if you don’t know me. The Phoenix Dream Center has helped me so much. Knowing you believe in the girls who came here, gives me motivation to continue.
Alma is an amazing poet. Check out some of her poetry here.