Sheena was the first person that I met when I pulled into New Orleans last Friday. She warned me about staying safe in the neighborhood and then agreed to tell me her story.

Sheena: I was in foster homes from two months until I was thirteen. After that I moved around to group homes until I was twenty. It was really rough growing up in group homes.

BW: Tell me about one of the hardest days.

Sheena: The hardest day was in April of 1999. I went and got baptized and when I got home, my foster mother wasn’t there but the next door neighbor and her son were there. Twenty minutes after I got home I got raped by the next door neighbor’s son.

Nobody believed me cause they didn’t like the way I dressed but that was just me. I was a young girl. That really changed my life because I signed myself out of custody. I didn’t trust anybody and I don’t trust black men especially. It kinda put me in a loop and put me on drugs. Life has been rough ever since.

BW: So, you literally got raped on the same day you got baptized? How did that make you feel about God?

Sheena: Oh, it didn’t stop [relationship with God] it at all. It made it stronger. Cause I know it was not his fault. I knew some people are just evil and they do things cause they want to do it. Just being cruel. So it made me closer to God but hate men more.

BW: Surely you’ve wondered why that happened on the same day. Why did that happen? Your life changing moment was supposed to be getting baptized and instead you get raped that day.

Sheena: Yeah, it was hard.

BW: Did you turn him in?

Sheena: No, I lied. I told them it was somebody else. He ended up giving me an STD. But, *tears* it didn’t matter. You know, because even if I would have told the authorities, he had already left.

BW: He fled after he raped you?

Sheena: Yeah.

BW: I’m really sorry that happened.

Sheena: Most people think that when we women end up on drugs we have a choice but… Even though we try to bury the truth, the past replays over and over like a camera.