Monday, April 14, 2014

She's a Little Runaway - the Runaway Myth

It has been a long time since I've cried. I've developed such a thick skin, I don't really let that emotion happen anymore. It's a survival strategy child abuse survivors know all too well.  
I have to say that this article from the Polly Klaas Foundation brought me right back to the streets of Washington D.C. where I learned how to use the extra liners in McDonald's garbage cans to create shelter for myself so that I wouldn't get wet. I didn't want to have sex with an overweight balding manager of the music store I worked at and elected to sleep under the awning of a run-down hotel. He had told me that I could stay if I was willing to put out. He didn't count on my WILLINGNESS TO BE COLD AND WET. Back then, no one ever counted on my relationship with God and my willingness to pound pavement.

How kids like me could be criticized for actions we take to survive will FOREVER be beyond me. That is why I have made this mission my LIFE. The Toilet Paper People foundation WILL happen if it kills me.
I am sickened to death by the judgment that hovers around our homeless youth problem. It seems to me that our CHILD ABUSE PROBLEM is the REAL PROBLEM. The false assumptions regarding our runaway youth are astoundingly ignorant. These views must be changed and that is why I won't give up on the people who are MY family. They are the toilet paper people (or 'thrownaway' children) --- The children who survive these awful conditions do not have to continue being homeless... I believe we can help them by introducing them to MERCY.

"False Assumption:  
All homeless children have a home to return to.
Nearly half of the homeless kids surveyed by the National Runaway Safeline described situations where they were thrown out of their homes by their families or caregivers. These children literally have no place to go. They are called thrownaway children.
Additionally, a good number of runaways come from abusive homes where it was dangerous for them to live. If homeless boys & girls do not find a reputable shelter, they may panhandle and sleep in parks or abandoned buildings. Survival requires more money than panhandling can provide. Many young people find themselves selling drugs or sex, not by choice, but through necessity. It is estimated that many young people, especially girls, begin engaging in survival sex within 48 hours of leaving homeSex for food and a place to stay can quickly escalate into formalized prostitution." I was lucky to escape that fate.
Over 50% of youth in shelters or on the streets 
reported that their parents told them to leave 
or knew they were leaving but did not care."
(click here for entire article)

To think that a child would prefer to be homeless is a sad miscalculation. While I was happy to no longer endure my adopted mom's ruthlessness, life on the street without a typical home or family support system can be described as precarious at best. It is easy to presume that a society would be empathetic to us and eager to lend a helping hand but that is seldom the case. Child abuse survivors can be ticking time bombs if not given appropriate resources to cope with their pasts, pasts that often include sexual abuse. This scares the general public and fuels the fire that I believe is at the heart of our nation's homeless problem --- This fear of getting involved in another family's child abuse story is at the heart of every single mass school shooting in our nation's history. Some child abuse survivors go off the deep-end. They snap. After being abused and/or neglected at home they go to school where they are bullied or become bullies. Out of a deep sense of HURT and REJECTION, child abuse survivors feel they have no other choice but to hurt others or turn that hurt on themselves in the form of drug abuse and suicide. Is this what we want for them? Is this the kind of future they deserve? 
I have to believe that there are lives to be saved here. I have to believe that there is LOVE present in every act of HATE that has been waged on a child. I have to believe that child abuse survivors can learn how to heal and love themselves enough to live a life of purpose. 

but that won't happen until we change our minds about child abuse and OUR runaways. 

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