It was 26 years ago today, that my life changed forever.

Someone I adore told me this week that “you need to tell your stories, people will find a lot of what they need in them.” I woke up today thinking a lot about those words and my story, here I share some of it for the first time. There’s a lot going on in my community, our community, and our world; I hope somehow this makes at least one person think differently about something.

There I was sitting in an elementary school classroom in Burriville in 1990. It was the last period of the day, I was hoping I could make it through the day and just get home.

You see, DCYF had been poking around the homestead that week after my lil’ bro fell off his bike and got bruised up, at 5 years old he used the bruises and the opportunity to tell his teacher that it all came from our parents. While it was a lie, the child abuse certainly wasn’t.

Myself and my two siblings, were very often beaten by my Mom and Step-Dad (my Dad left my Mom when he found out she was pregnant). For a while we were homeless, living in the woods near the Scituate Reservoir in a car, living in motels and spending long periods of time with Uncles. When we did have a home, we were literally locked in them for hours at a time when our parents went to the bar or went to get their fix.

{Homeless/Panhandling Issue – Unless you’ve been homeless, you really can’t imagine how deep and dark that person’s world is, how hungry you can get and how difficult it is to ask for money. Yes, there are scammers but we as a community, nation and world need to stop acting and treating people as if anyone is below us and do what we can to help. There are literally families out there, that don’t have a roof over their head or know where their next meal is coming from.}

At 8 years old, I was invited upstairs by my mom for “a long nap”, turned out she wanted me in her bedroom while she put a shotgun to her head (even at one point, asking me to pull the trigger). While I was able to scream loud enough to get help, I was beaten to the point I couldn’t walk for 4 days (they said I fell out of a tree) because I stopped her from doing it.

Back to that day at school, that morning before heading to school my mom told me that if the police or anyone came to school, to run. During the last period of school, I was pulled out of class by the Principal and brought to her office, there stood a police officer and someone from DCYF. I was there told that I would not be going home or back to my parents (no goodbye, no chance to get my favorite sweatshirt or anything), I came up with every excuse why I need to go home and then ran. Obviously, I got stopped.

{Fear of police: I was brought up to fear the police. I was TAUGHT that police are bad – you hear it all the time – “don’t do that or I’m going to tell the police officer to come over here”, “there’s a cop” and etc. We should be teaching our children to respect police and to tell them things. Our children should feel comfortable going up to any officer and telling them that “I’m getting beat”, “there’s a bad guy” or “I need help”.}

That afternoon I would find myself at the DCYF office. Waiting for them to find a home for me. I was terrified. I was finally driven to a home by a DCYF person and all I can remember is fearing I was going to end up with a “black” family. My biological parents were racists and we were TAUGHT not to like “black people”.

{Racism is taught, I didn’t come out of my mom thinking “black people” are bad or different. Luckily I was able to get over and through that. All of the hate in the world has been taught, we need to re-educate ourselves. We’re all Americans and every single person deserves the same love and respect)

I’d end up at a foster home in West Warwick, my two siblings would end up in a foster home in Cumberland. They would end up in a very heavy Christian home (we came obviously from a non-religious home), pushing the religion so heavily on them would have a terrible impact (story for another day). I would live in that foster home with 8 other children of all ages, we’d eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch daily, it was evident that this foster home was doing what they were doing all for the money.

(Foster Homes: Not all homes are good, not all are bad. We need more great families to step up and offer a home for children out there that don’t know where they are going to live tonight, tomorrow, or next week)

At that foster home, I would be sexually abused by two different males that were much older than I multiple times (i’ve never said or written that before). I eventually would work up the courage to tell someone, they told me to keep it quiet. I trusted a teacher enough in West Warwick to tell him, that would go on to the police. I remember sitting in the police station pointing to a picture of the male body and explaining what happened.

{Sexual Abuse: Obviously with all that’s happened at St. George’s everyone has had an opinion. It’s extremely difficult to talk (and write) about how someone took advantage of you and your body. Why did it take 10, 15, or 35 years for some of these people to come forward? Because that’s how long it took for them! It’s extremely degrading to go through/deal/own, nevermind tell everyone in the world.}

I’d end up at another foster home where I was abused, watch a foster mom attempt to commit suicide, where foster parents had drug issues and etc.

{The Point: This is my story, we all have stories in our lives that we need to go back to right now and remember the lesson learned and apply it to how we think, act and feel during these turbulent times. We need to stop insulting our fellow neighbors, friends and Americans on social media and in public. We have the opportunity to combat racism, sexual abuse, poverty through HOW WE ACT. We just need to re-teach ourselves how to be decent human beings again)

Part 2 of the story to come some other day……

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).