Growing Up In Violence Part Two: Fiona’s Story

I am a guidance counselor. And I’ve always wanted to tell some of my enlightening stories. Over the years I have taken notes about a lot of my students. And I’ve decided to start sharing some of them here.

I work with a lot of kids who don’t have ideal home lives. The one thing that always amazes me is that they always come to school. Even though there’s no one at home making them. When I was a kid I would have stayed home every chance I got.

Even when there is a field trip they can’t participate in. Even when they don’t have a uniform. Even when they come and don’t do a damn thing. They come.

I’ve worked with a lot of kids over the years. And I’ve learned so much. Getting to really know kids is the best part of my job. Normally the kids who are the most difficult are the ones I grow to love the most. What I’ve really learned is that all kids, everywhere, want exactly the same thing. To be loved.



Fiona is quite possibly the most amazing student I have ever worked with. And she has no idea just what an incredible person she is. So wise beyond her fourteen years.

On the outside, Fiona looks like your average fourteen year old girl. But once you talk to her you realize there is nothing average about her. Her story is pretty devastating. But she is so strong that she actually ends up giving you hope for the future.

I worry about Fiona a lot. Especially on nights and weekends. Especially in the winter months when she is taking a bus all alone all over the city. When she misses school, which isn’t very often, I make sure that she is okay.

I have worked with Fiona for a long time. But when we sit down to tell her story, even though I know the entire story, we get emotional. It’s really hard to hear her tell her story in her own words. We normally talk about her problems in real time, so hearing her narrate the story of her life is really overwhelming.

When I tell her I’m going to tell her story, her first question is “what’s my cut?”. And that is why I love her so much.

Fiona comes up with the first question.

When did my misery start?

At 9 months my biological father left me. When I was 4 my mom got a boyfriend named Brendan. He would beat my mom. My brothers were 13 and 15 when I turned 7 and me and my brothers came back from church and my step-dad came drunk and started to beat my mom and my two brothers jumped in and dragged him out.

At the age of 10 my biological father called me. My birthday was coming up and he said he was going to come. I waited basically until 12 o’clock in the night basically til my birthday ended on the stairs. Hoping he would come. He never showed up.

The next day my mom got into a car accident. She was in the hospital and me and my brothers didn’t have a ride to go see her so we had to bus it. When we got there we found out Brendan tried killing her.

My mom was scared. She didn’t tell us but you could see it in her eyes. The next day my mom called. She told us that everything was going to be alright and to not worry. My brothers got mad and out of frustration my brothers made a phone call.

A few hours later my brothers get a call saying Brendan was in critical condition. I was a little girl and didn’t know what was going on. I thought that he just left our lives. It wasn’t a surprise since he was always leaving.

My brothers never told me he was in the hospital until I was 11 and I found out. Since those years of misery that Brendan had put us through the only thing I learned was to never rely on a man. My mom became a single parent again. I felt like I had no one from ages 11-13. I had my sisters and brothers but sometimes I wondered if they were really there.

Fiona is the youngest of 5 children. On report card pick up day her 20 year old brother came to the parent/teacher conferences. Her brothers look out for her as much as they can. Many nights Fiona is home alone throughout the night.

When I got married at age 28, I was afraid of being home alone. I had a home alarm installed for the nights Beau was traveling. Fiona is 14 and stays alone most nights. In a not so nice neighborhood. With no home alarm.

When I was about 12 my mom got into trouble. She went to Mexico. Leaving everything behind even her kids. Don’t get me wrong it’s not that she didn’t love her kids, it’s what was best for her kids.

We had nowhere to live, me and my brothers. My brother made a phone call to Brendan. (The same Brendan that nearly beat their mom to death ) My brother asked him if we could stay with him until my mom got back. Brendan asked if I was going to stay too. I said yes and he said my brothers could come as long as I go with them.

To clarify Fiona describes her relationship with Brendan as a good one. She says he has always treated her like his own daughter and she loved him. Despite the fact he beat her mom for years. These are the details that are really hard to understand. Yes Brendan was responsible for nearly killing their mother, but he is also the only other adult these kids had in their lives to turn to when their mom left.

We got there at 3:30. We called him to open the door and my brothers promised me we’d just stay there a month until things cleared up with my mom. A month turned into a year. A year without seeing my mom.

When I turned 13 my mom came back. She took us back. Everything was starting to go good. I finally saw the bright side of things.

My mom got a new boyfriend. His name was Frank. At first he seemed nice. Pretty chill. The first few months were good. It felt like we had a family again. We were living in his house. Me, my sister and my mom. Everything felt wonderful. I was finally happy.

He treated my mom with respect so I had plenty of respect for him. A few months later, my mom got in trouble. They arrested her and they arrested my brothers.

The day my mom was arrested I was begging her not to go to the place she was going. She wouldn’t listen. I was in school in writing class and I kept calling her telling her not to go. I was making excuses that my stomach hurt because I felt something in my gut that something bad was going to happen.

She said she would pick me up after school. But she never did. My brothers ended up picking me up. They said that she went to go to work. I knew what work meant.

So five hours go by and we finally find out that my mom and my brothers have been arrested. My sister promised me that my mom was going to get out. A few hours later she said she was sorry because she had to break her promise. She didn’t know when my mom was going to get out.

Fiona knows exactly what went down the day her mom and brothers got arrested. She never tells me the entire story and I never ask. She alludes to some details, but she just can’t bring herself to say it all out loud. As if doing so would mean her mom really is guilty.

More on Fiona coming tomorrow.

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