Death, Domestic Violence and Hope
Lily is seventeen years old with blue eyes and long, light brown hair. She agreed to chat with me, before her job at a nearby fast food restaurant, about her recent journey with KIC-IT. She spoke quietly, as if she measured her words carefully. Based upon our conversation, I can understand why.
Lily’s mother passed away when she was in middle school, just a few years ago. She lived briefly with her grandmother who also has since passed. She remembered a day at school, a short time later, when she heard the announcement that a student passed away. That student was her cousin. In the last five years of her life, Lily has lived through loss, domestic violence, couch surfing and addiction. But Lily’s story is about hope and triumph not tragedy.
While Lily attended high school, she lived with her younger brother and the man she refers to as father. During her sophomore year, she met another boy in her class and they began to date. He ended up living in her household as their relationship became more serious. It also became abusive.
Lily said, "Everything was fine for about six to seven months." She was young (and still is) and didn’t know the signs of an abuser. He started to manipulate her and make her feel guilty. He became angry when she talked to friends. He fought with her little brother who was later removed from her home. Her brother had anger issues. He missed his mother and acted out.
She endured verbal and physical abuse for months. She was afraid to tell her father but she shared her experiences and fears with friends. She finally left when the slapping became kicking and she simply could not take it anymore.
Lily left her own house because she was afraid. After she left, her father kicked the boyfriend out but she did not return. Lily moved in with two friends and began to sort out her life. However, her friends used drugs...a lot of drugs. During the four months she stayed, she started doing drugs, too. She dropped out of school, argued with her roommates and felt sick every single day.
Another friend let her move into her house so she could recover and take her life back. Her friend’s mother told her about an organization called KIC-IT and scheduled an appointment for her.
Lily said, "The second I met Molly at KIC-IT everything became easier. I wasn’t sure what to do or where to start so Molly stepped in and helped.” She met with Molly once a week and during this time, Lily started back to school and obtained the resources she needed to move forward with her life.
How does seventeen year old Lily feel now? She said that she feels hope. She is becoming financially stable, independent and will graduate high school soon. She said, “My situation doesn’t look so bad now. When you are in a stable environment, you have time to think about what you want and can do.”
Lily wished she would have handled the past two years of her life differently. She let situations and people make her feel like she couldn’t do anything. It was when she no longer had choices that she pushed herself to change her course.
She wants other teen girls to know that it's not easy when circumstances make your life hard. You have to work at making a better life for yourself, but you can do it. I asked Lily if she had three wishes, what would they be? She thought for a moment and replied, “I want to be financially stable, have better mental health and learn how to cope with situations better. Sometimes I feel like I ruin everything by thinking too much.”
She then smiled said, “I’m getting there, to that better place, it’s just a process with myself.”
*Lily is a pseudonym to protect her privacy. If you or someone you know between the ages of 16 and 25 are struggling with homelessness, please refer them to Kids In Crisis Intervention Team (KIC-IT) at 317-412-4973 or firstname.lastname@example.org.