Breaking Connections

…Girls who have been involved for three years talk about the shift that occurred internally for them when they realized they had to break connections with their families — end the emotional ties and break with the gang that their families expected them to die for. A girl takes the talking piece and says:

“It’s so hard for me to trust people. Teachers and social workers, they get so mad at me ’cause I won’t talk about this s—“. Get outta my face. I tell them: I don’t know you. But I do know you finna be gone soon. Just like everyone else. I’m not finna tell you this ’cause you’ll leave like everyone else.”

She looks around the Circle, biting her lip to keep from crying, tears begin to run down her face. “I’m finna tell ya’ll what happened to me—Karen, she knows this, but nobody else. This is what I keep inside. This is what is killing me. I been raped by my mama’s friends. Three times. I was little when it started. It’s old now. But I can’t forget it. Never. I blame her. It’s not like she knew, but she let those men in the house. She let them around me. And I hate her for it. I hate her. She was supposed to protect me.”