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Saturday, November 8, 2008

On being William, a Teenager and being Homeless, Part I

By William Dominguez, 18
In 4 Parts

Maybe you have seen those smelly homeless guys asking for money. But did you ever stop to think that one of them might actually be a teenager? I spent a year and nine months on the streets. What I saw and experienced, no teenager should have to go through.

I grew up in an abusive family. When I was a little kid, I would stay out as long as I could around my neighborhood and at the park to avoid getting beat by my dad. When I was 5, my dad burned me on the stove and I was put into foster care.

I spent eight years in one foster home in the San Fernando Valley. I liked it. It was actually a normal family. We had dinner together. But I'd still get sick of it sometimes because I was the middle child and would get blamed for everything. I also got into fights with my foster parents over stupid things like my room being clean or homework. Sometimes I would run away for weeks and go to a friend's house. I was used to running away. The streets were like my home.

But when I was 13, I was taken out of my foster home. Social workers said there wasn't enough food or clothes and supposedly my foster dad was beating my little brother and sisters. I was sad to leave and surprised because I didn't think those things were true. I was placed in a group home where I lived with five other foster youth.

Going to a group home after spending so long in one place was hard. I didn't like how the group home staff didn't care when I told them I was getting picked on by the other kids because I was the new kid in the house. To be continued …


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