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….
One guy took me in (and also molested me), let me stay at his house actually burned my hair with Axe hair spray and a lighter. That’s when I first started wearing a Mohawk.
From there I went to a shelter and then I got a ride to Ottawa. I stayed at one shelter for maybe a month before I learned that if you lived outside, you didn’t have to listen to anybody. I didn’t like the rules they had there (at the shelter).
Soon after I started living outside, I was smoking and using marijuana. After living on the streets for about a month, someone asked me if I had ever tried Ecstasy. I lied and said, “Yea, totally.” I started doing hard drugs more and more. I was addicted to ‘uppers’ or Ecstasy (most of the time) or anything that made me feel happy. It took away the pain.
I was abused all my life. From the outside we lived like a happy family, but behind closed doors it was really bad. I could never remember a time when I was as happy as I was when I was on that drug: it was like all of your bad feelings go away, and I was doing it every single day for a while.
After about 3 years of sleeping outside, couch surfing, and staying at shelters, but mostly on the street, I went for a visit to my “family”. I’d like to say ‘home’ but it never really was – not at all. The reason I say it like this, “Family”, is because to this day, I consider the bonds I made with other youth who experienced the pain and heartache as I did, to be stronger, than those of my own blood. While visiting, I ended up seeing my lifelong abuser for the last time, and it was not a happy memory. I remember the very last words he said to me, were “take those stupid things out of your face, and grow some hair, then I’ll respect ya you freak!” I simply replied, “Love you too Dad,” and he drove away. Two days later, at around 3 a.m., the police came to my mother’s door to tell us my father had been in an accident, and did not survive.
I didn’t feel sad that he was gone. I tried to act sad, like everybody, but I didn’t. I went in and finally was able to say everything that I wanted to say to him. The only thing I’m sad about today, is that I never had a chance to confront him to let him know how I felt as an adult.
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