One night when T’kora was 17, she woke to the sound of her Mom screaming. She grabbed a golf club and ran to her parents’ bedroom. Her Dad was beating her Mom. “He’d been choking her all night,” she explained. “There was a body-sized hole in the wall where he’d thrown her through it, and when he looked at me, he had red, bloodshot eyes like the devil himself.”
T’kora threatened to hit him with the golf club, and eventually, he relented. “I feel bad for my Mom,” T’kora said. “I want her to be happy, but my Dad stole her happiness. It breaks my heart.”
T’kora grew up in Greenwood, SC. “I really didn’t have a childhood,” she explained. “My Dad took that from me. He was very abusive.”
At night, her Dad would have his friends over to the house, and he’d make T’kora and her brother, who was 9 months younger, fight for their entertainment. “His friends would yell and scream. They’d throw money at us and make us hurt each other and hit each other. It ruined my relationship with my brother. We can’t even look at each other.”
To self-medicate, T’kora started stealing pills and alcohol from her Dad, and she was only twelve when she started cutting herself to dull the emotional pain. “When I was 15, I cut myself up real bad.”
At seventeen, she got her first job and was able to save up enough money to move out on her own. Unfortunately, she moved right into another abusive situation, which lasted for five years. Of that time in her life, T’kora said, “I was doing drugs all day, every day.”
Eventually, she moved to Harrisburg with a family that promised to help her. While living there, T’kora was given all the alcohol and marijuana she could ever want, which was a bad situation for someone who had been self-medicating for years. She was struggling with PTSD, bipolar, and depression. “The family I was staying with couldn’t deal with that,” she said, and tensions began to escalate.
Eventually, she started cutting herself again, but she found the strength to admit herself to a psychiatric hospital, where she was able to detox. She has been clean and sober ever since – that was last March.
From there, she moved onto rehab and then a halfway house for six months. At the end of her time there, she had nowhere to live. Her counselors encouraged her to go to City Mission.
“City Mission means the world to me,” she said after almost 11 months in the program. “I’ve grown so much. I think differently. I walk differently. My confidence is through the roof. Living at City Mission makes me realize I’m capable of so much more than I ever thought I was.”
“I’m growing in every way,” she said. “Even my family sees it. It’s hard for my Mom that I’m so far away, but she doesn’t worry about me so much any more. She even said she’s proud of me, and that means a lot.”
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I have a new perspective on life, and I finally see a future for myself.” Within the next few months, T’kora plans to go back to school and pursue a degree in therapy.