Tessa’s Home is an 8 part series running until December 27th. To listen to the audio backgrounder from CHRI , click below.
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Here is Tessa’s story in her own words….
I remember I had to go to CHEO, ‘cause I tried to commit suicide when I was like ten years old, and tried again when I was thirteen. So they sent me to the CHEO psych ward and my dad would cry. Then he would tell me about his childhood: how he had to fight his dad when he was drunk, because he was trying to beat up his mom, and he got pushed down the stairs, or he pushed his dad down the stairs, and that was like stuff he would do then to me, except tenfold.
I can’t remember when the sexual abuse started – probably when I was a baby, but I can’t remember. I remember some bad stuff, but there’s a big portion that’s just blank, just blackness. After going for testing, my counselor told me it’s a form of childhood amnesia caused by severe neglect and/or abuse, and in my case, both. I remember one time getting abused by one of my dad’s friends when I was eleven (details omitted)… I remember on the way home my dad was trying to cheer me up, asking me why I was so upset… I didn’t tell him. It freaked him out when he found out someone else was doing it – I don’t know why ‘cause he was doing it.
My dad got charged a few times with sexual abuse, (I didn’t find this out until I was older) against me and my sister. I’d go into school and they’d find bruises on me: I remember once telling them (like my counselor at school), what was happening to me. My parents found out about my complaint and made me go back to the school and tell them I was lying. The counselor said, “Really?” I didn’t say anything: I was afraid he (my dad) was going to kill me.
I remember he locked us in the closet once, and said if you have to go to the bathroom, just do it on your clothes. Once I was in the closet for six hours, and I wet myself, and then he beat me up because of it.
When I was ten I tried hanging myself, but my sister found me and cut me down. My mom didn’t know what to do, so we didn’t talk about it. She said, ‘Don’t talk about it. I don’t want to hear about it’.
When I was thirteen I got into the bath. Secretly I was cutting but no one ever knew. So I got into a bath and was cutting and it wouldn’t stop and I started getting woosey, and I guess my mom came in, saw the bath was full of blood, and I was covered with blood and she started laughing, then crying.
CHEO said they thought it would be good if I left that house. They said they would help place me or they were going to remove me.
After my hospital trip, seeing how they were treating me, I figured that anywhere was better than home, so then I ran away.
I was fourteen.
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