Derek’s Story, 18
“She used the money she received on drugs while she was supposed to used it on her medicine”
Derek was first put into the system because of his mother’s battle with schizophrenia in which it caused her to randomly abuse him. The state placed Derek with family members, but they also suffered from mental problems. Living in the projects he eventually sold and used drugs. When his mother recovered, he moved back in with her. However, her schizophrenia prevented her from keeping a job; she would use her disability checks to buy drugs rather than her medicine. As she continued using drugs, 14-year old Derek found the only way to take care of himself was to sale drugs.
In spite of all this, Derek found an escape: art and fashion design. Drawing the images that he imagined became his way of releasing all of the pain he felt. With every drawing the pain from his past goes away…a little. So, even though he’s been taking care of himself ever since he could remember, he still never gives up hope on his dream of becoming the next big fashion designer. But how will he do it and who will be there to help him? Derek has hope but he will also need some help!
Vincent’s Story, 17
“I was hurting and she sells her baby boys pain killers for that white”
With a mother who was strung out on crack-cocaine and a father who died in a drive by, 8 year-old Vincent found himself with no money, no clean clothes, no home and, more importantly no one to call on. The only family Vincent had was an older cousin who eventually introduced him to the drug game. Selling drugs and stealing “Yu-Yu’s” (SUV trucks) and walking around with guns were the only way he knew to get what he wanted and to protect himself. He cooked as well as dealt crack, he smoked weed and the “dipper” (marijuana dipped in chemicals).
But one day, Vincent tried to steal a car, the owner shot at him and he ran but was hit head-on by a speeding car. If not for life-saving surgery, he would have died. While in recovery he lived with his mother; but she would sell all of his painkillers just for a quick fix. “I was hurting,” said Vincent, “and she sells her baby boys pain killers for that “white” (cocaine)”. Vincent is 16 now, and he shows a foot long scar in the middle of his stomach, “the scar that saved my life” he says. The scar reminds Vincent that he was going nowhere fast and he would have died. Now, he has a new passion, a passion that reminds him there is a world beyond the streets that trap him. His new passion is to drive trucks and to see the world. Traveling is a mental escape for Vincent: with his Mom incarcerated, he is literally on his own. When asked if he was open to guidance and instruction to help him better himself in life his reply was, “I would do anything to get out of the streets.”
Stewart’s Story, 19
“There is nothing anybody else can do to me that my parents haven’t already done.”
Mentally and physically abused by his mother’s boyfriend, Stewart became what he calls “numb to emotion”. His stepfather would constantly burn him with cigarettes and make him stand in a corner for hours. Stewart was beaten over and over whenever he made mistakes. He would have to hold his hand out and get 25 lashes from the boyfriend, and, if he moved there he’d get 10 more. Steward sold drugs to survive, but he states, “Selling drugs ain’t nothing to glorify; there was times I was selling drugs and feared for my life.” But many times his mother’s boyfriend would steal his money to buy alcohol. Stewart finally got tired of the abuse and ran away with his little brother. They stayed in an abandoned apartment where they tried to stay safe by stacking cans in front of the door so that if someone broke in they would hear them and jump out of the window to climb down a fire escape.
Stewart escapes his pain through his music. His lyrics allow him to escape his reality; he hopes to be a professional rapper so that he can share his talent and his life stories with the world. “The only time I get tears in my eyes is when I tell my story.” He is also seeing a physiatrist due to the impact of the abuse he has suffered.