I’m 12 years old, a black female, charged with: Runaway. I’m not a criminal, but I’m detained in the juvenile system until the DCFS system, picks me up. I’m not a criminal. The foster home where I live doesn’t protect, provide or feed me. The owner only provides a roof over my head and for that, I’m expected to be thankful. My biological, mother doesn’t want me, and she lives just around the corner.
My tears are a reflection of the many sleepless nights I endure and I’m hungry because I haven’t eaten in days, my foster mother locks up all the food in the kitchen pantry instead of feeding me. My foster mother gets $600 a month for each child that she’s supposed to take care of. There’s seven of us that lives in this elegant mansion, so you do the math.
I’m not a criminal! I’m a young black girl caught up in two systems, just trying to survive. I’m 12 years old, I’m not old enough to work to provide for myself. So don’t point your fingers or look down on me because I smell bad some days, my hair isn’t combed, I let grown men and women touch me just so that I can have a place to lay my head some nights, or get a decent meal, and sometimes, I sell my body just to have access to a hot shower. The only affection I can feel is at the hands of a grown man who tears my innocence apart night after night. Sometimes, the men are nice to me and sometimes they are mean and force themselves on me.
I’m not a criminal! I’m not out here robbing people. I’m just hustling to survive. My biological mother doesn’t want me, my foster mother doesn’t take care of me, so I runaway and continue to be a case number in DCFS custody and a docket number in the juvenile justice system. I’m a 12 year old, black female charged with being a runaway.
My body reeks of sexually transmitted diseases. My father raped me when I was seven, sometimes, I wonder why was I even born? The pain I feel, no one knows because, I hide it behind my intelligence. I’m not dumb like people think. It’s not my fault, my foster mom won’t let me attend school. I found words in a book that said, “Why steep in someone else’s disappointment? Why linger where you aren’t wanted?” But what if that someone’s, disappointment is my mere presence? What if where I linger for food and shelter, is the same place that keeps me incarcerated? I’m not a criminal, I just want to live my life, I’m only 12 years old.
My case worker tries to help me, but there’s not enough resources in my community. The judges don’t see me as I stand in the courtroom, because if you looked closer at me, you would see my cries for help through my silence. The children and family advocates are just seat fillers in the courtroom. I can’t enter a guilty plea, because I’m not a criminal. I’m a 12 year old, black female, charged with being a runaway, can you help me?
This short story was inspired by all the black girls who are victims of sextrafficking, abuse and neglect. You can help donate and support organizations that help young girls who are victims of sextrafficking by clicking the hashtag #Not4Sale