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My older brother raped me when I was eight. The abuse went on for years. Then, when I came out as gay, my family kicked me out of the house. I was only fourteen.
I lived on the streets of Mexico City for three years. I stayed in cheap motels or any other place I could find. I cleaned buildings at night so that I could go to school during the day. Sometimes I turned tricks to afford food.
I constantly felt unsafe.
My education suffered. I had always done well in school. But when I was homeless, I just did whatever I could to graduate.
I coped by focusing on survival and trying to get out of the situation. I also coped by pretending I was tougher than I felt. I suppressed my feelings of loneliness and terror. I couldn’t allow myself to feel any emotions. It would have made me vulnerable.
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When I finally found a place to live, I kept myself very isolated because I didn’t trust people. I felt that if anyone knew how weak I was, they’d take advantage of me.
The abuse and homelessness affect me to this day. I still have symptoms of PTSD. For years, I felt constantly on edge. I was reclusive. I abused substances.
I only began to recover after I came to the U.S. at age twenty-seven. After going through a failed relationship, I realized I needed to work on myself. I wasn’t able to open up and let anyone in.
It was only when I started going to therapy that I developed a sense of self-worth. I learned that despite what I’ve gone through, I am still kind and loving toward others. I struggled for years to learn that I could be kind and loving to myself. I’ve also worked hard to believe other people care about me.
Now, I’m married. It’s the happiest relationship I’ve ever had. My husband and I have two beautiful dogs. They are my companions and the best part of my therapy.
I find joy in giving love and help to others. I work as a youth mentor and counselor for a nonprofit called the Spanish Speaking Citizens' Foundation. My terrible past has given me tools to help young people. I am thankful that I can use my experience to help others.