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YOUTH PEER SUPPORT PARTNER | CLACKAMAS COUNTY

 

Eleeziaa was born in Oregon to a sixteen-year-old drug addict. When she was four, she and her younger sister entered Foster Care. Her birth mom would ultimately lose custody of all of her eight children. Understandably, Eleeziaa struggled with feelings of abandonment. She and her sister were eventually adopted when she was eight. Their new family consisted of a mom, dad, and three brothers, two of whom were also adopted. The oldest son was a lot of trouble and sexually abused Eleeziaa and her sister for years.  He told them that they would be the ones to go if anyone found out. She experienced immense stress and didn't have anyone to talk to about what was going on. Eleeziaa prayed every day that no one would find out in fear that she and her sister would be separated. She felt that she'd be better off fearing him instead of the unknown.

When everything came to light, Eleeziaa felt like her parents and siblings blamed her for what happened. She struggled to cope with her anxiety and depression and also felt guilty for not being able to protect her sister. She had difficulty connecting with others and was discouraged from talking about her experience with anyone outside of her family. Her parent's split up when she was 16 and divorced soon after. Her mom remarried quickly and dealing with a new man in the house proved difficult. She and her mom always had a challenging relationship, but the increasing conflicts between them eventually led her to move out. She went to live with her dad and brother in a small trailer. The trailer was miles away from her school, but she managed to finish and graduate with decent grades.

Despite everything that happened to her, Eleeziaa has many good memories of growing up and knows that her parents truly loved her. She tries to understand how hard it must've been for them to know how to deal with their situation. Even now, she struggles to say anything negative about her family but knows that what happened is a huge part of her story and how she became the person she is.

After high school, Eleeziaa joined the Army, which was ultimately the best decision of her life! She has been with the Oregon Army National Guard for five years and was deployed to Kuwait for nine months. Her experience in the military has had a huge positive effect on her life. Before she deployed, Eleeziaa was in an unhealthy relationship with her high school sweetheart. While they were together, she felt so consumed by her insecurities and need to please that she ignored her worth and stuck with a man who didn't treat her with respect. Through the military, Eleeziaa was finally able to make healthy friendships and build a community of supports for the first time in her life.

Now as part of the Youth ERA team, Eleeziaa is grateful to have found an opportunity to work with youth who've had difficult childhoods and are struggling to grow into successful adults. It's important to Eleeziaa that kids get to be kids. She is a firm believer that a young person's circumstances don't have to dictate who they become. She's excited to help more youth find their way like she has.