She was only three years old when it started. She’d been to that handyman’s shop many times before, tagging along when her grandmother needed something repaired. His was a familiar face, so there was no reason to refuse his invitation into the darkened room in back of the shop.
Her grandmother never found out. No one did. It was the beginning of the nightmare cycle of sexual abuse for little Mica Richmond and a ragged introduction to what would become a life in crisis.
Things were no better at home. Her older step brothers began abusing her and threatened to do worse if she ever told. She never did, not even when the inevitable happened. Mica was eleven years old the night her brothers threw the big party—the night her brother’s best friend got her alone. At this tender age, she was about to contract a venereal disease and become pregnant.
Three months later, afraid of what her brothers might do if she revealed what had really happened, she endured her mother’s ugly tirade of insults and accusations of promiscuity. The pregnancy was aborted and at twelve years old, a confused and ashamed Mica ran away.
Two years later she returned home with a heroin addiction and horrific memories of too much too soon. Then one day her mother, unable to cope, drove her to the Greyhound bus station with suitcase in hand and told her to just go away.
The next few years were spent being shuffled between family members around the country, running away, getting caught, running away, and doing whatever she could to support her addiction while racking up a record of arrests and jail time.
Abusive men drifted in and out of her life leaving her with two children. Mica was on welfare doing her best to pull her life together and to provide for her children.
When her oldest child was five years old, Mica enrolled in the B Fit program at a community college. She helped construct a house and was finding a sense of self worth behind the controls of a bull dozer. But just as things seemed to be turning around, her body broke down under the physical stress. A series of injuries and surgeries led to pain killers and to even more drug addictions.
In yet another downward spiral, she lost the Section 8 house she had lived in for nine years and she was arrested for shoplifting while her children watched on in horror. The children were immediately placed in foster care.
As her life continued to unravel, the turning point finally came the day she was presented with papers to sign an agreement to give her children up for adoption. It was in that moment that the seriousness of her situation finally sank in. Everything else had been ripped from her life; her innocence, her self esteem, her health, her home, and now she was about to lose the only thing that had any real meaning in her life—her children.
Maternal and survival instincts kicked in. This was one loss she would refuse to accept. She pleaded for whatever help might still be available to her and was referred to [social services agency—program for women in recovery]. It was the first real structure she had experienced in her life. She took a series of workshops for parents of teens and made such rapid progress, she was becoming an asset to the program and was eventually encouraged to assist in presenting the workshops.
Before long, she regained custody of her two children, studied to get her GED, and entered training to become an alcohol and drug counselor in the criminal justice field.
She now has her Associate of Applied Science Degree majoring in Mental Health/Human Services. She has not only maintained a 3.9 grade point average, Mica was an officer of the Mental Health/Human Service Club on campus, and is a member of two honor societies, Alpha Delta Omega and the Rho Theta Phi, Theta Kappa chapter.
Today, Mica is such a vibrant and enthusiastic young woman, confident, responsible, articulate, and an excellent parent, no one would ever guess what obstacles she has faced and overcome.
“For the first time in my life, I am happy and doing what feels right to me”, she said. “My children are excelling in school and we are all proud of each other every day. My pastor recently asked me to give a presentation to the congregation about faith. It’s a subject I felt well qualified to speak about because I finally have faith in myself. I have so much to be grateful for.”