What do you think of when you picture a mistreated child? Maybe someone with a black eye, a bloody face, some little half-starved kid with ribs showing, hobbling around with matted hair, looking like they’ve been playing in a muddy landfill or something? That’s what I thought they looked like. I didn’t imagine they might look like me. Besides, I always heard from my parents that “plenty people have it worse.” So my heart obviously really went out to those who had it worse.

The general public are rarely told what the ordinary signs of child abuse look like or how common it is. Our perspectives are skewed because most stories of abuse covered by the media (and lots are not covered at all) come out when the situation is so horrific it’s somehow plainly visible and shocking forms of tangible evidence are discovered.

So I decided to share a few personal photos, some as a small child, others as a teen, one of me recently. One reason is because I was a cute chubby-cheeked little thing (Come on, y’all know you wanna say “awww!”), but also because the pictures do not quite look like they match up with the story.

Maybe it’s hard to get an idea of what living the way my family did generally looked like, since from the outside it didn’t look as strange as it actually was, and we didn’t parade around in matching handmade dresses or looking like we’d lost a fight. I think that’s something important to keep in mind when thinking about at-risk kids. Sometimes shyness and politeness can cover up a lot.

So although I intend to keep my family and friends’ privacy (hence the silly cartoons covering people’s faces), here’s some pics. Also, please don’t take my photos and go put them up elsewhere on the Internet or use them for your own project without asking. I have no wish to be part of some meme.

Me as a little girl.

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A family photo from when we were still attending church.

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Me right around the time of “rescue.”

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During intensive tutoring and my Grammy’s social skills boot camp.

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On a high school field trip with friends my junior year, my 3rd year of public school.

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Me this year, holding a framed photo of my Grandad.

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