I know it sounds conceited, but I actually made myself a T-shirt that reads "I am the beauty, in the midst of chaos."
The chaos was my childhood. I'm the fourth born of 13 kids, in a house where domestic violence was an everyday thing. I can still hear my father yelling. And my mother begging him to stop while blood trickled down her face from where he'd hit her with a table leg.
Even when my mother was pregnant, it didn't stop my father from abusing her. I remember him kicking my mom in the stomach as she balled up in a corner. My siblings and I were the audience to our mother's pain.
There were so many times I wished that she would just take us and flee, and she tried, but we never made it far. We'd go to shelters for battered women and children, but somehow my father always found us and we always ended up back with him.
My father used to make me and my siblings beg for money outside a bank to support his drug habit. And one month, he took all but 20 bucks of our family's living money. When I was 11, Child Protective Services met me at my school and put me and my siblings into the foster care system.