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Complicating Cruel Fragments

Shalay and Aryian 

At Safe Families, every parent we encounter has their own story to be heard.    Meet Shalay and her daughter Aryian.  Shalay’s story is one of pain, beauty, inspiration and resilience. Please read below in her own words of survival and hope.  Over the past few years, staff and volunteers have been blessed to know her and watch God continue to write her story.  

Complicating Cruel Fragments
I remember that cold winter afternoon, January 25, 2003 at around 1:30 pm. The day that the Chicago Police Department raided my grandparents’ home. A series of mixed emotions ran all over my body, as the police officer gathered my siblings and I and instructed us to have a seat in the living room. I saw the police officer going upstairs to see if any children were up there, and at that point I knew some intense things were about to happen. I knew Tyrese was upstairs chained by the neck with a thick dog chain and padlock. I knew they were going to see the bruises and his bones because of how skinny he was from not being fed. I knew they would see him physically hurt, and the pain in his eyes, the overly soiled pamper that had been sitting on him for over 24 hours. The same chains my grandparents used on the Pit Bulls we had in the backyard. The police officer went to the police car and came back with a tool to cut the chain with, cut the chain and sent Tyrese in the living room with the rest of us. I could tell by the police officer’s facial expressions and body language, that he was livid, and sick to his stomach at the same time.
We were home alone because my grandparents went the grocery store, we were home alone a lot. As the police continued to raid the house, they found large amounts of cocaine, marijuana, money, firearms and ammunition. All children were immediately removed from the home, taken to Roseland Hospital to get an examination for physical and sexual abuse. The police asked us a lot of questions about my grandparents, and what went on in their house. We were always coached that if anyone asked us questions to lie about what’s going on, because my grandma said,” what goes on in the house, stays in the house.” My grandparents never chained me up starved me or left me in soiled clothes. Seeing Tyrese go through this traumatized me, from getting beat for sneaking Tyrese food, to getting a busted head because I trying to change his pamper when I was 6 years old.
After I left my grandparents’ house, I bounced from foster home to foster home, listening to my grandparents telling me that if I acted out in all those homes, no one would want me, and DCFS would have no choice but to send me home. Unknowingly I was making things worse for myself. I got old enough to know that they were sabotaging my life. I finally spoke out about what was going on in the home of my grandparents, after lying about it, or saying that I don’t remember to keep my family secrets safe. After I spoke up, my family stop speaking to me, disowned me, down talked me to my little sister, and other family members in hopes of making them dislike me. This made me bitter, angry, betrayed.
I would get 30 day notices at every foster home I went to live at (when DCFS have to find another home for you to go to when the foster parent didn’t want to deal with you anymore).  Then I went adolescent psych wards, and to residential treatment facilities. No one wanted to be my foster parent. I was defiant, mean, aggressive, a bully, disrespectful. I felt like I had nothing to live for. I went into a long depression, that comes and goes as it pleases, Carrying on into adulthood. Which, consequently, changed my eating habits, and made me gain a colossal amount of weight.
Psychiatrists that have assessed me, told me I wouldn’t be able to function in society without medication.  I’ve also heard I have the same mindset of my family, and going to go down the same path. The only cure was medication and severe therapy. I knew what I needed all along, and no, it wasn’t medication, or therapy, those things might have helped, but I’ve seen people take medication, and side effects go all the way wrong.
I’ve encountered so many traumatic experiences being in a system designed to “serve and protect.” When I think about my future, I get blissful, because through the obstacles that I have encountered, such as depression, lack of motivation, and self-pity, I still have a chance to live life.
I will raise my daughter to be humble, kind, and smart, and to be the best that she can be. I will make sure my daughter does not encounter the hardships that I have encountered in my life. For my daughter, I want her to know she is loved ALWAYS
I am excited about my future and I know that it won’t be anything less than substantial, because I am opened-minded, determined, self-confident, and innovative.