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Aging Out
My Story
David Griffin
Risa Bejarano
Daniella Anderson
Keely Lopez
Thomas Hudson


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College Confusion
Risa with her college roommate
Risa with a girl from her dorm at Santa Barbara.
Though she was apprehensive about moving into a college dorm, Risa found that her roommate wasn't "snotty and stuck-up" as she feared, but instead that they were actually pretty similar.

RISA: On moving day, my roommate and I didn't get to talk much. But after that, we noticed that we have so many things in common. We go to dinner together. We party together. I'm falling behind on my reading of course, because that's difficult to stay on top of.

Though Risa had no problems finding friends, she did struggle academically and began to fall behind. Risa began her spring semester at UC Santa Barbara on academic probation because she failed her psychology class. But academics were not her only worry. She was unsure where she would live the next semester. She was unable to get an apartment because she did not have a co-signer. Another problem Risa faced was where to go during school holidays. She felt that staying with Dolores was taking a step backwards. Thus, for spring break she stayed with her sister Alejandra in Los Angeles.

RISA: I had to explain to the girls that I don't have a co-signer. Basically I couldn't get a lease, so I couldn't get a place to live. I feel like I don't have a home. When I'm here with my sister, she's offering me a home. But I don't know where I want to go now. We lived together all the time until we were 13. We just grew up in bad circumstances, being abused in everyway.

ALEJANDRA: There is nothing good to say about us being with our mom. We warned her that we were both being sexually molested by our stepdad. We told her. She was aware of this. It first started when I was five years old. That's when I said "I don't want him around me." We would try to lock our room. We lived with this until I was 14 years old. One day I picked up the phone and I called the cops.
I need help, but I, I just feel happy when I'm helping other people that's what makes me happy and that's what makes me complete.
Risa cries remembering her mother
Risa cries as she recalls painful memories of her mother.

RISA: I do care about my mother, but I just don't respect the choices that she made in her life. The reason I told [the police] was because of what my mom told me. I remember when they took him in the cop car my mother said something like, "It's okay. As soon as he gets out, he'll be back here." She was protecting him over us. This weekend, Mother's Day weekend, I'm going to go back to my mom. I'm going to talk to her about all this stuff that was happening like molestation and drugs in the house. I don't know what her circumstances were then, which is what I want to talk to her about.
Video of Risa and her sister Ale discussing their childhoods

Risa spent Mother's Day with her mother and siblings in Los Angeles. When she returned to Santa Barbara, it was clear that over the weekend something traumatic had occurred that landed Risa in the hospital. Her roommate Ashley packed a suitcase with Risa's belongings to take to her in the hospital. Risa spent three weeks in a psychiatric ward. Her doctors said that she suffered a psychotic break. With no family members to contact, the doctors called Risa's former foster mother, Dolores.




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