My name is Michelle and I’m 17 years old.  My parents were both drug users and there was domestic violence in the home since I was born.  My parents finally got divorced and my father became more and more physically and verbally abusive towards me and finally I was removed from my home and placed with my grandparents.  My grandparents moved to hide from my father, but my father was able to find us and began to terrorize us.  My grandparents feared for their safety and gave into my father’s demands for money, food and sometimes shelter.

I was referred to PACS for mental health services because I was depressed.  I would cry all the time, lash out at others in anger, blamed myself for what was happening, and I couldn’t sleep.  During one of my therapy sessions, my father started threatening my grandparents and because my therapist spoke Japanese, she was able to talk my grandparents and helped them to file assault charges.  She went out of her way and accompanied them to the police department.  I’m so grateful for what she has done for me and my family and felt very supported throughout my time with my therapist.  I learned coping skills and I now understand that I’m not the cause the chaos that surrounded me.

Despite all these things that were happening in my life, I was able to stay positive and focused.  I took AP classes, maintained a 4.6 GPA, and was involved in many extra-curricular activities.  I believed that working hard would lead to something more.  I’m happy to say that I feel that I have a future to look forward to.  I won a $40,000 national scholarship and will be attending UCLA.