Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monday Minute: She Inspired Me

Ian, at the Daily Dose of Reality, has been hosting something called the Monday Minute for approximately the last year.  The Monday Minute, for those of you who don't know, is a set of five questions each Monday and then people link up and answer.  Ian, however, is looking for a new host of the Monday Minute and has given those that would consider taking it over the task of writing the following. 

"By signing the linky, I want you to write a story.  A story that has happened to yourself at one point in your life.  A story that will inspire others to do good.  A story where you performed either a random act of kindness or went out of your way to help someone in need."

As a I read this request, I immediately saw the face of S.S. (disclaimer: these aren't actually her initials for confidentiality purposes).  When I was a junior in college, I volunteered at a local attorney's office four days a week.  Mr. G. did exclusively juvenile defense work.  In other words, our clients had gotten in trouble with the law and he defended them.  When I started at the law office, I had such a judgmental point of view.  I thought "what a lazy bunch of kids."  I thought "these children are what's wrong with today's society."  And then, I met S.S.

A couple times a week, Mr. G. would send me to the jail to go talk with the kids.  Usually, he just wanted me to go shoot the breeze with them and get to know them.  He thought this experience would be invaluable to me...he was SO right.

I still remember so vividly the first time I went to the jail.  I sat behind a glass window and a 16 year old girl came up and immediately started making inappropriate gestures at me and sat back in her chair not wanting to give me the time of day.  The first visit was a complete disaster.  I shyly let her take advantage of my time and came back feeling defeated and weak.  The next visit, I decided I had had enough.  SHE was the one behind the glass.  SHE was the one that had broken the law on VARIOUS occasions.  Every single time, she was arrested for running away.    Her Mom claimed her daughter was just being a typical teenager and there was no way to control her.

I sat down and told her, "first of all, we're going to do things a little differently today.  You're going to sit up, you won't slouch down, you're going to speak to me when I ask you questions, and you're going to respect what I say because I'm only here to help you!"  S.S. didn't care for my new attitude ONE BIT.  She told me to "f*ck off" multiple times.  I kept insisting.  We had multiple visits and slowly but surely she started to sit up and talk to me.

After the first 3 visits, Mr. G. told me I didn't have to go back anymore to talk with her.  Now though, this was my mission...I was going to get to this girl.  I was going to break through her rough outer shell and see what was making her ruin her own life.  I started going to the jail on my lunch break or during the day and would as a result have to stay later at the office because I hadn't gotten my work done.  This wasn't about her legal battles anymore.  This was about her life and I wanted to do what I could to help.

After quite a few more visits, S.S. finally opened up. "You want to know why I run away? (the tears started flowing down her face)  S.S. had been raped.  Multiple times.  By her father.  By her uncle.  By just about everybody that her mother LET.  Her mother WANTED her to get pregnant to get food stamps and governmental aid.  Her mother kept threatening to BEAT HER when she wasn't getting pregnant.

I held back my tears as best I could.  I tried my best to stay strong for her.  I asked her why she hadn't told the counselors at the jail about this and she responded "nobody cared enough to keep trying."

I RAN back to Mr. G.'s office and told him about S.S.'s story.  I'm happy to report that S.S. was taken out of her Mother's custody.  After that, I never heard back from S.S. which was a good thing because she used to be one of our regulars.  I worked for Mr. G. for another year after that day and she never came back to jail.  Not hearing from her was a good thing.

The interesting thing about this story is that it's supposed to be about how I influenced somebody, but I think she influenced me more than I did her.  I now realize there are ALWAYS two sides to a story.  I learned to have sympathy for children in the juvenile system because you NEVER KNOW what's goign on at home.  I would have tried running away over and over again if I was her too...wouldn't you?

Whether I get the Monday Minute or not, I'm glad I wrote this post.  Hopefully, this will influence others to keep an open mind and to remember that the children are our future.  Who is trying enough to help them out?

25 comments:

  1. I'm in tears just reading this. I have no idea how you didn't break down hearing the story first hand. She just needed someone to care enough....it's very lucky she had you.

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  2. FANTASTIC story. Very moving and I hope many more read this.

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  3. Wow! This is the most powerful post I've ever read. You are wonderful.

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  4. You had me crying too! Had to read it to my husband. This girl's attitude reminds me of my own niece. Though she got her's from a mother who did not want her at 2 years old, and a classic mean stepmother with a father who didn't step in to protect his daughter from either of them.

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  5. Thank you for this story. From my work in prisons, I've come to realize that nearly every adult and juvenile inmate in the system today was abused in some manner as a child. Hopefully more people will become involved as you did and learn the truth so that we can actually address these problems effectively.

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  6. I love you. You're awesome. There's no way I'd ever have the guts to do that, and that girl needed you. Just wanted to let you know that you're awesome! =)

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  7. What a great post Cristy. Thank you for sharing. I love reading stories where someone made a difference in someones life, especially a child who has been hurting for so long. You are so right...so many of the kids in the system just need someone to be willing to stick it out wit them. I live in California and there is a program that has been started where you can get involved and be assigned one particular kid that is in the system and being bounced around from foster parent to foster parent but the one consistant thing is the person that they have been assigned to through this program. I pray that I can be a part of this at some point. I have 4 kids of my own but I am just about to the point where my kids can take care of themselves. I have always had a heart for kids who have been hurt and just need some love. Again, thanks for sharing that story.

    Anne @ http://lessonsthrulife.com

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  8. Cristy, what an inspirational story. It can be so difficult to open up and share what is so painful in your life, yet this girl began to feel safe with you. You were her voice and her advocate. And she opened your eyes to a realization that there are 2 sides to every story. I'm so glad I stopped by today. Thanks for sharing your story and your inspiration.

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  9. Painful story and one that happens way to often with families and friends who turn a blind eye. Makes me want to puke.

    Very well written.

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  10. wow - what a powerful story. And what a sad commentary on our society that things like this happen and no one knows. Except for you, because you took the time to find out.

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  11. What a great story. It really takes a special person to get through to any teenager, much less one who has been through all that S.S. had. Kudos to you and thanks for sharing this.

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  12. What an incredible story, and life changing experience for you, I am sure. Thank goodness she was removed from her household. There really are two sides to every story, and it's important for us all to remember that, every day.

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  13. Wow...That girl's story is tragic, but you did such a wonderful thing for her by persisting, AND I bet to this day and for the rest of that girl's life, she will remember you and be inspired by you!

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  14. I'm at a lost for words. But I pray that she continues to meet people who care, so she can finally heal.

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  15. What an absolutely wonderful story. What a difference you made.

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  16. Nice story. I hope things worked out OK for S.S.

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  17. I've left you something on my blog!

    http://onebrownie.blogspot.com/2010/09/awards.html

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  18. This was such an inspiring story. It shows just how really caring can change someone's attitude and help them open up. She was very lucky to have met you and you were very sweet for going beyond expected. Sometimes all life takes is that extra step, and you took it.

    I hope you get the hostess spot. =)

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  19. Wow. Such an awesome post. You're Inspiring for sure! I KNOW you made a difference :)

    BTW, Following from Blog Frog! Wait, actually following from The Red Headed Riter! {We were both featured in her "Rockin Friends" post today} yay us! I really enjoyed reading a little about you and hope to get to know you a little better through your blog!

    Going to find you ON Blog Frog now :)

    And I, too, hope you get Minute Mondays!

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  20. What a powerful post..and a major moral..two sides to every story! WOW!! Kudos to you for posting this!

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  21. This is a fantastic story. I love how you didn't give up and saw her as someone who needed your help rather than just a criminal. So many times, these kids that get in trouble have so much more going on in their lives but very few, if anyone, take the time to find out what it is. So many kids could be saved if everyone helped 1 child.

    I'm stopping by from Friday Mom Loop- hope you can stop by and say hi.

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  22. Awesome post! I am so glad you were able to get through to her and show her that someone cared. I can only imagine how much you've changed that young girls life. :)

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  23. Wouldn't it be interesting to reconnect with this young woman again to find out how she's doing. I understand that it's a good thing she's not getting in trouble any more but I would desperately want to keep in touch with her.
    Great story ... thank goodness you persevered!
    I'm here from Bloggy Moms.

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  24. Wow, Cristy! Very moving story!! I'm sure what you did for her means more than you'll ever know:)

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