My name is Jessica. I am now 17 years old. In my short life I have experienced situations that most of you would not believe.

My story begins when I lived with my mother and younger sister, Tiffany. My mother prostituted herself and the men she brought into our home began to sexually assault myself and my sister when I was 4 years old. I know my mother knew what those men were doing to us but she never once stopped them. It got to the point where my mother could not care for us so she called my father to come get us. I was 8 and my sister was 6. My sister and I were so excited to live with a “normal” family. We finally had a man in our lives that would protect us and keep us from harm, or at least that was what we hoped for when we went to live with him.

Shortly after we went to live with my dad, he began grooming me. My father then began a sexual relationship with me. As a young girl, I wanted attention from my dad. He made me feel special and loved but in the wrong way. The sexual relationship lasted for years and I came to believe that my father was my partner. Little did I know, he was doing the same thing to my sister. When the relationship was discovered, I protected my dad. I had a forensic interview Life Stories Child Advocacy Center (CAC), but was not ready to see that the relationship was actually sexual abuse. My sister and I were placed in foster care. We were sad and scared and relieved all at the same time. We had so many people on our case. At times it was overwhelming.

Early on in our case, the court appointed us a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, named Meg. Meg was there just for us. Not surprisingly, my sister and I were struggling with many mental health issues and had more than one foster placement. But no matter where we went, what we did, how we struggled, Meg was always there. She became our voice in court and let the judge know what we needed in order to become survivors. After we had been in therapy, both Tiffany and I were ready to tell our story of our years of sexual abuse. We went back to Life Stories CAC. We once again spoke with the Forensic Interviewer who gently helped us tell the story we so desperately needed to tell. Telling my story helped me take back the control that had so brutally been taken away from me. It also brought back memories that I had tried for years to keep hidden.

Meg was a constant source of support through this tumultuous time and was there as my sister and I went to court and told twelve strangers what our father had done to us. The court process was extremely difficult as we had to face our father as we testified. However, with the help of many individuals, including my CASA, I have come to realize that my parents have not taken my life away but have made me stronger and I am determined to become a successful young lady. Through the entire process and still as of today, I am grateful that I was given a voice: first through the forensic interview and then with my CASA.