Stage 1: “Before”

My name is Charlene. I am presently 18 years old. I have gone through a lot of things in my life that have brought me to your program today. I have overcome difficult things that have made me the person that I am today.

It all started at the age of 13. My mom was a single parent at that time and had a terrible habit of going out, getting drunk, and partying all the time. I have three younger sisters at this time, but back then I only had one younger sister who was 10 years old. My mom would always leave me and my sister alone on the weekends and I would have to baby-sit her. She sometimes called me mom because I was the only one taking care of her at the time. I had done my best to be a mother to her, but it was hard because I was only 13. Then around 1991, my mother met our stepfather. He started molesting me around the time I was 14 years old. I never knew if he had done it to my little sister, but I dread it if he did. At that time I didn’t know that what he was doing to me was wrong and I never knew to tell anyone. He told me to never tell anyone what he had done because people that I had told wouldn’t understand. I kept that from my mom for one year. My step-dad and my mom ended up separating because my mom cheated on him and was pregnant twice by another man. That’s where my other two sisters came from. We stayed in Georgia and my step-dad moved to Raleigh, NC.

My mom had me watching my little sisters all the time and to me it didn’t seem fair. I never had a life of my own. I felt that I had missed out on a lot of things like being a cheerleader and going out with my friends. Things began to get bad with my mom and me and I wanted to leave. She told me to go and live with my stepfather in Raleigh. So at age 16 she sent me to Raleigh to live with him. I began dating a boy from my school and I ended up getting pregnant at 16 years old. My stepfather didn’t like my boyfriend because I was pregnant by him. After I had my son, I couldn’t work because I had to take care of the baby and I didn’t trust anyone to watch him. My boyfriend never helped me out because he was young too. There was no food in the apartment and I needed to by diapers and things for the baby, but I had no money. My stepfather began bribing into taking $40, $60, or $80 in exchange for sex. I didn’t want to do it, but the only person I was worried about was my son. That went on until I finally found the courage to call the police and say I’ve had enough. They took my stepfather to prison and I was sent to foster care with my son.

Stage 2: “Intervention”

This young lady had heard about our program while she was in foster care and had made initial contact with us prior to being discharged from care. When she turned 18 she had a part-time job and wanted to try and move out into her own apartment. She received some support from the LINKS program which provides money to youth transitioning out of foster care and we assisted her with locating a market rate apartment. Her son who had some substantial medical problems at age 2 stayed in the foster home while Charlene moved out into her apartment. We assisted her with subsidizing the apartment, obtaining furniture, budgeting and money management, provision of food, and a variety of other case management assistance. At the time, Charlene was very nervous about trying to live on her own, but she was determined to try and make a life for she and her son and she was hopeful that we would be able to help her achieve her goals.

Stage 3 “After”

As a result of the support from our program, Charlene was able to obtain and maintain her apartment and was even able to move to another apartment closer to her job six months later. She now works two jobs and was able to finish her GED. Unfortunately, she was not able to regain custody of her son because of his severe health conditions. This was difficult for Charlene, but she gave him up for adoption and she was confident that he would find a good home with a family who could properly care for him. Today Charlene has found a new boyfriend who is in college and he is very helpful and supportive of her. She is proud of the fact that she is making it on her own and paying all of her own bills. She often encourages other young people to call us for services when she meets youth in need.