“For any outburst I was put in isolation with a straitjacket and shot up with thorazine... I now have the most amazing mentors, friends, professors, supervisors, and confidence I have ever had. Allow others in to help you lay the bricks to all the roads you want to build for your journey.”
Foster Nation continues our #SpeakUp series with Jaemmie's story:
“I finally ran away when I was fourteen from a very emotionally and physically abusive person — the woman that gave birth to me. She would torture my older brother and I in the most creative ways. I was beaten almost everyday... I learned that cutting on myself took the pain away. But finally, I decided I had enough scars… so I got away.
I never had foster parents, rather I found myself moving from institution to institution because of my behavioral issues. The worst experience I had was at Gateways Mental Hospital. For any outburst I was put in isolation with a straitjacket and shot up with thorazine. I would wake up enraged because I felt fear and confusion at my experience. I witnessed many youth so distraught that at one point one of them pulled their entire half of their hair out slowly day by day with their own hands. The food always always had flies or gnats... I will never forget that place.
To other foster youth: stay strong and always remember that we all have something to contribute to this world. We all have something we are good at; we all have talents that we have either yet to discover or improve on. Never lose sight of the vision you have for yourself. Do not allow anyone to tell you otherwise. If you can see it in your mind, if you envision it, everything is possible. Keep hope alive and remember that we cannot continue on our journey alone. We do it with others alongside us, helping us, motivating us, and guiding us every step of the way. Allow others in to help you lay the bricks to all the roads you want to build for your journey.
The system taught me to be stronger than I ever could imagine. And ironically, it taught me to trust people, even if they are not in my bloodline. The system taught me to be a survivor, to be resourceful, and to find the good in even the most horrific situations because that is the only way to stay alive and keep the hope alive.
What I needed the most was guidance and mentorship when I emancipated. I lost my first apartment within two months of emancipating and found myself homeless. It wasn't until 6 years ago when I started community college again that I went all in and reached out to everyone possible to help me so I didn't fail again. And it worked. I now have the most amazing mentors, friends, professors, supervisors, and confidence I have ever had.”
-Jaemmie graduated from UCLA in June and now works with homeless youth at Safe Place for Youth