“When I first came here, Liz was just a person. I thought she was paid to come in here and do this with us, and then I read Liz’s book, and it gave me a way, way, way different perspective on her, and I think she’s one of the most powerful women I know in my life, because of what she’s endured and how happy she is now these days. So I look up to her and every single time I see her, I just look at her and study her, and think if she got through that stuff then I can, too, and I can change my life and break the cycle in my family.”
Girls With Sole Participant in RTC, Age 15
“My family life has been very tough. Both my parents were drug addicts, and my dad was really bad on crack, meth and heroin.
I’ve been locked up seven times. I do drugs, and I love to run away. I like to run away from my problems, and that’s what I want to change. I also have unhealthy relationships.
Every time I come to Girls With Sole, I mean, I have it on my calendar. Every week I get to come here, and have fun and just blow some stuff off, because it’s not easy here, at all. It’s hard to focus on yourself, and it’s hard to focus on working with what you had problems with because all the problems in here, I can’t run from them, so that’s why it’s hardest for me to be in here, because I like to run, and I can’t run from my problems. I have to face them….and we do projects that really gets me thinking about myself, because Liz really is a big self-motivator, so she makes me just change my outlook.”
GWS Participant in RTC, Age 16
“Before I came here I was at another placement, and I was there for about two years, and nothing new was happening. So my case worker decided I needed to go to a more strict program where I’d be required to do treatment stuff. I really like the group Liz has here. I saw in her book that she struggled in her youth and stuff like that, and now seeing her coming here, like wow, I never would have guessed that. She just seems like such a positive person, and she’s like definitely looking forward to the future, kind of making things better for everyone. I like that she influences healthy choices, bringing healthy snacks and stuff like that. Just knowing, from reading her book, like part of her book like she has gone through plenty of struggles, some equivalent to what people here have gone through, some possibly worse, seeing as how that doesn’t seem to be like, “Oh yeah, here’s a person who’s still struggling.” It’s like, “Oh yeah, she’s great.” She becomes a role model. Definitely.”
Girls With Sole participant in RTC, Age 15
“Girls with Sole is an amazing program and we have been beyond lucky to have Liz in our lives and in our program. All of the feedback that we get from the girls is always positive about Girls With Sole – and having a consensus in any program is a big feat to accomplish!
I have seen girls with the lowest self esteem come alive in Girls With Sole. Liz and her partners bring an amazing energy and positive light that is absolutely contagious. You can actually feel the girls leave their problems at the door and have a set time to just have fun and laugh. But GWS isn’t just about leaving your problems behind. When those issues meet them at the door again, the girls are stronger and more able to deal with them then before. Girls With Sole is empowering and soul enriching. We all need a Liz/GWS in our life!”
Sarah MeltonUnit Manager at RTC
“My name is Alexis. I got to be part of Girls With Sole when I was in a program called RTC (Residential Treatment Center) in Canton, Ohio. When I was twelve years old I was taken away from my family. I was put into foster care. I struggled because while I was living with my mother I learned how to depend on myself. I took care of my mom too. She was a really bad drug user and very neglective. My dad as I was growing up was always in and out of prison. He moved to Florida to make a better life. When I was taken away from my mother I got into a lot of trouble. I was so use to being independent that I never asked for help. When I was hungry or needed something I would go out and steal it. Pretty soon I was always running away and doing drugs and hanging out with older people.
Ever since I first was involved with GWS it had me smiling and moving my body. We exercised and afterwards talked and did projects. When Liz talked to us it was very touching.
I liked exercising and the positive feedback. When I met Liz Ferro it was all positive words from her made me happy. I thought more better of myself and her story has touched me like no one could even be able to comprehend. When we all exercised and overcame something new it was amazing.
I was tired and out of breath but when I seen Liz just going so fast, I smiled breathed deep and pulled myself to run and not give up because that’s what Girls With Sole is all about -moving forward and believing in myself.
I’m happy I was in the GWS organization. I’m proud of myself for pulling myself through and I’m not going to stop now. I’m never going to give up when I’m overcoming an obstacle I’ll think of Liz and what she represents. I love it, I love Girls With Sole, I love me! All these things has kept a smile on my face through my times of doubt. Girls With Sole is one of the best programs I have been in. I wanted to say thanks to the Girls With Sole program for putting hope in me. ”
AlexisRTC GWS Participant
My name is Adrienne. When I was 17. I was sent to the Residential Treatment Center. I was living a criminal lifestyle that at the time I did not realize was going to take me nowhere. Before I got caught up in the negativity and trouble I was a very athletic, my favorites being soccer and track. I lost that somewhere along the way, blinded by the drugs, recklessness, and negative influences.
While I was in RTC, I was able to take part in the GIRLS WITH SOLE program and met Liz Ferro. The light that shone within her and her loving soul opened my eyes back up to the positive lifestlye I once knew and loved. She gave me back the empowerment I used to feel before and I soon realized why I loved sports and running so much.
Once I was able to complete the RTC program, I carried the light Liz brought back into my life with all I did. I have faced lots of obstacles along the way but thankfully I know I have Liz’s support, encouragement, and POSITIVITY that is essential to achieving my fullest potential. The impact she has made on my life is like no other. I have been very thankful for knowing there is someone out there who understands why I chose the path I did but encouraged me to see the good in all situations and gave me better techniques to get through the dark times.
Liz and I ran in a GWS event a few years ago (after RTC). Something sparked in me during that cold, rainy race. When I was running in the rain and cold, I wanted to give up, I wanted to quit, I thought it wasn’t worth it. Liz’s encouragement and motivation kept playing in my head and I started thinking about all of the obstacles in the race (in my life). I knew I couldn’t give up, I had to push through. There was so much more I had to accomplish. Liz believed in me to keep pushing and overcome so I believed in myself! It is so easy to get caught up in life and the hardships that come with it but it is an INCREDIBLE feeling to overcome something that has been holding you back, to achieve something you have been working for for so long.
Running is the same way. It is so easy to give up, to take the easy route, to not even start. It is a whole new world women can hold in their hands and use to build them up. There is no other strength in the world like feeling like you can’t do something but ignoring it and BELIEVING IN YOURSELF and making it happen. This is the strength Liz has helped me find again and again.
I was in RTC 5 years ago and am now a happy mother of 2 beautiful children and have the career of my dreams. Our business mindset is very similar to the GWS morals. We only encourage growth, support, and POSITIVITY. We push everyone around us to fulfill their dreams and be the best we can be. I encourage everyone to become involved with Liz’s program and take it to your heart. The light that Liz brought into my life will forever be a piece of me and it continues to push me to be the absolute best I can be.
Thank you Liz for all of your love and support. That particular race day plays over in my head very often and I love the power it gives me I wouldn’t be the mother or business woman I am today without you coming to me when I needed you the most.
Adrienne Girls With Sole Graduate
I used to be afraid. I used to be afraid of what people would think, of what I would see when I looked in the mirror, of what I had to go home to and what I might find when I got there. In fact, I used to be so afraid to go home, that when I finally psyched myself up to put the key in the door, I’d turn around and run before my conscience told me to go back.
You may be thinking, “Mandi, running from your fears is cowardly and unrealistic.”
That’s what my counselor told me. She also told me that refusing to face reality is called “being delusional.”
I called it having a Superpower. I fail to see the difference. When life sucks real bad, I could just leave whenever I wanted, like a magic trick, “wanna see me disappear?” Don’t ask, I’ll do it anyways to save you the trouble. Poof! I’m gone.
So, I bet you’re wondering where I went when I ran from my fears. Well, I can tell you what places I didn’t go: the library, school, my grandmother’s, Joe’s Crabshack, the grocery store, on a pilgrimage. Long story short, I didn’t go anywhere innocent or family oriented.
My family was too high to care where I went or what I did. Then, I discovered drugs and had a new way to escape reality. I didn’t even have to leave my house! Then on one fateful evening, I was arrested. My family relinquished custody of me and I was getting released to a foster family. My life spun out of control when I got out. I had a crazy, weird new family. New school, and eventually new drugs. My addiction finally came to the light and things got bad again. My foster family decided to move to Minnesota and I was truly alone. I went to a group home and two weeks later I came to RTC. Later in the day when I got here, they told me to put on my own clothes for working out and I thought, “great, we’re gonna be doing military drills or something, I just know it!”
We went down to the gym and I was instantly greeted by Ms. Liz, my first thought was,”who is this crazy hyper pixie lady?” but it turns out that Ms. Liz isn’t just some pixie lady who shows up to work us out.
It reality, she’s my Fairy God Mother. She took my shoe size and bra size and I was instantly amazed by the amount of generosity a single woman can possess.
Over the past 6 months, Ms. Liz has done so much for me and every other girl here at RTC. She helped me shed my skin and learn to fly. Even after all of the adversity I’ve been through, she has helped me turn into a beautiful butterfly. Ms. Liz has inspired me to turn my life into something better. I’ve seen the future, but through someone else’s eyes. I’ve stepped through the looking glass and seen an alternate path. I’m so grateful and lucky to have the opportunity to meet Ms. Liz and participate in Girls With Sole. I know what I could be. I’ve seen, what others have seen, and I am no longer ashamed of what the future holds.
I AM NO LONGER AFRAID.
Mandi, Age 16
“Welcome to my life. There’s a lot of pain hidden behind my brown eyes, and there’s a lot of rain covering blue skies. I’m sixteen now but it feels like my childhood just flew by. I grew up with mental illness. Yet depression, PTSD and anxiety has never stopped me.
When I was thirteen I knew what death was before I knew how beautiful I really am, but still to this day insecurities consume me. I have always strived to succeed so when I do I can look back and I can thank God for all the trials and tribulations because those are my motivations.
I’ve lost a lot except the need to speak up and speak out about the terrible things I have seen, while seeing all of the positive things in this world. I deserve to have everything that has been stolen from me.
If I could speak to my ten year old self I would tell her that she is worthy of love and how God has not forsaken her. I would take her fears and write them on a piece of paper and set it to flames. I wouldn’t take the things that have happened to me away because those are the things that have built the resiliency in me.
So to Girls With Sole not only did you teach me to use exercise to cope, you taught me how strong I am both mentally and physically. I can take any obstacle, pick it up and move it away from my goals. Ms. Liz showed me that no matter how big or heavy something is – I can lift it and lift myself. No matter what, nothing can stop me from achieving my goals.
I am a Girl With Sole.”
Tavia Girls With Sole participant in Residential Treatment
“Hello my name is Kerriah, and I would like to tell you how Girls With Sole has helped me because Mrs. Liz is just so caring, and loving. She inspires me. She taught me to accept people for who they are and accept me for who I am.
I am me. People are supposed to love me for me. In 20 years I imagine myself helping MRDD kids or adults. I love helping them. They make me a better caring person and also Mrs. Liz. She is such a amazing woman.
The reason I’m at RTC is because I ran from my problems thinking that it would help. I disappointed a lot of people by doing what I did. I have no idea what could have happened but I could have ended up dead. When I was 15 years old my best friend committed suicide. I don’t really know why, but I sometimes feel like it was my fault because I hit him because we were fighting and he told me he was in love with me.
This is why I love Girls With Sole. Since I met Liz Ferro, I just started being myself and started expressing my feelings. She always taught me to think positive, great things will come my way.
I learned to be loving, caring respectful and most important, I will be myself. I’m not ready to be 18 years old. I believe it’s gonna be hard. But I got to grow up sometime. I really put all my trust in Mrs. Liz. I think she’s so special. She’s a very gifted runner. I love her. I sometimes wish she was part of my family.
I think it’s so great grown ups like Mrs. Liz actually cares for troubled kids. It makes me smile when I think of it. She makes my day when she comes here. I pray for her in my prayers. I love her and her friends she brings. God Bless, and thank you for reading.”
Kerriah RTC - Girls With Sole graduate
“My name is Shawna and I’m in Residential Treatment and foster care. I’m about to turn 18 and age out. I have a daughter from when my uncle rape me. She’s in foster care too. Girls With Sole gives me strength courage and hope. Ms Liz is my inspiration and she really keeps me going. I love Ms Liz and the other people she brings to help us.
Girls With Sole is an empowerment group where I can learn coping skills and clear my mind when I’m upset or frustrated. We have a pit bull mascot named Stella bella which is beautiful.
Ms Liz is a very sweet woman and no one is there to judge you.
We are all unique and can be ourselves with Ms Liz. She truly cares for us girls and puts a lot of time into us and she even buys us new running shoes. I don’t even think this essay can actually describe how I feel about Girls With Sole and Ms Liz.
Seriously, and she has been through a lot and achieved everything she has. She climbed to the top. She did it and I can do it too because I believe in myself and nothing is impossible ever. I’m going to be a nurse and have a family and be happy.
Girls With Sole is a place to learn about myself from other people and from moving and exercise. People who are encouraging and feel like a long lost family.
Girls With Sole is like a getaway for me where I can feel strong and safe and empowered. Nothing is impossible, only if we believe it is. Girls With Sole tells me I can achieve and I love it.”
Shawna Girls With Sole Participant
“When I first came to RTC, my depression was the worst it has ever been. I was addicted to drugs and was overall a pessimistic person. On my third day, Miss Liz came. When the other girls told me how much they loved her I started to immediately love her. I didn’t even know what Girls With Sole was. But everyone was so hype, especially Miss Liz!
Here at RTC not a lot of people are energetic or even happy. Seeing all the smiling, laughing, bonding, and exercising made me so happy and I wanted to go so bad the next week. I had something to look forward to that was healthy and beneficial to me.
So next week came, and Miss Liz had a Girls With Sole water bottle, her book, a sports bra, and even running shoes for me. I was sublime. These were name brand things, and Miss Liz was so happy to give them to me. I carry my water bottle with pride, wear my shoes comfortably, and carry a great deal of warmth in my heart thanks to Girls With Sole.
I read Miss Liz’s book “Finish Line Feeling” the second she gave it to me. It made me feel a lot less alone. THE EXACT things I was doing and going through, someone experienced. Someone who made me inspired. I’m so greatful for this group and Miss Liz. She has made the biggest positive impact on my life that I’ve ever had in my life.”
June, Age 16
“Liz I wanted to let you know something and I hope it makes you proud. I hope you’re proud of me but I really hope you’re proud of yourself. I have been facing a lot of depression lately, and although my struggles now may be so much different than they were when you met me almost ten years ago, they still consume me some days from the normal working average life that I try to live.
I want you to know I have felt desperate and hopeless for a while .. last night I hit rock bottom. I just wanted a way out, but I didn’t want to hurt anyone.. so I called suicide prevention and they gave me some resources. I spoke with a woman on the phone until I fell asleep. I woke up feeling absolutely the same, though, and even more hopeless like nothing could help.
I have had no idea how to help myself, what to change, where to begin or what I even needed fixed. I still don’t know all of that, but thank you. Thank you so, so much for teaching me the first step that I can take…the only one I have ever known to help, and the one I almost forgot actually did.
I always felt so strong and empowered and confident in your classes, and it could always put these feelings aside and make me feel worth something.
I finally see a way out Liz and it was when I thought of you when I was crying driving to work this morning wondering how I would push through another day, and I don’t know what made me think of you, but now I know how. I’m going to get though my shift today and I’m signing up for a membership to the gym before I go home. I know it won’t all be fixed just by hopping on the treadmill but for now it’s an escape I’m going to use that you showed me and I do want you to know that I even will probably quote yourself in my head a few times “you’re a rockstar” was always my favorite. It made me laugh.
I really hope this serves the purpose I sent it for and not to worry you because I am making my way back to the happy me I know that you know too. (The me you always brought out) I want you to know you’re still impacting me Liz you’re still helping me without even knowing it you still inspire me to be a better person and I truly thank you for it all. Thank you for teaching me all that you have and for bringing me up when I was down and teaching me how to bring myself up too. You’ll never know how much you’ve helped me in my struggles and you’ll never ever be able to be thanked enough for everything you do. You’re a rockstar too.
You’ve helped me so much Liz and everyone needs to know how powerful GWS really truly is, and the courage and strength that you instill in all these girls using the program.
I would never have known an escape from my struggles and wouldn’t have found the strength I needed without you showing me I had it. You truly make a difference.”
Paige, Age 24
“We’re Girls With Sole and we’re on the move: To me that means we have great things ahead of us. You can’t stop us because we have no time to back down.
We’re strong and proud, you can’t stop our groove: In Girls With Sole we do a lot of self esteem projects and games. I think they are fun and they help us to love and discover ourselves.
We know who we are and who we want to be: Basically that is saying we are beautiful, bright and brilliant. We want to be famous, courageous, strong and the best of the best no matter what.
We sail through life with resiliency: Even when we are going through tough times, we don’t give up. When there are difficult conditions in life, we don’t turn around and say, “Oh well.” We may cry but we don’t back down.
At Girls With Sole we set goals and believe …if we keep lacing up, we will always achieve/succeed: To me that means we look to the highest, not lowest. We aim far because if we set our goals to “high” , then that’s where we’ll go.
I want to be a famous actress and also a lawyer. What I do to achieve my dream as a lawyer is to try my best at classroom debates. My team usually wins! A professional, was once a beginner at something. To achieve my dreams of becoming an actress, I usually act very dramatic. When people call me “dramatic”, I take it as a compliment. I am at my best in plays. I even use my acting skills in dance. In Girls With Sole, they have helped me with being my best and trying to achieve those dreams.
All of the teachers for Girls With Sole are smart, kind, and amazing. They are everything they teach us to be. They build us up, not break us down. When we are running, they give us encouraging words to keep going if we stop. Ms. Liz Ferro not only taught us to think of ourselves as amazing, but she has taught us how to be fit, active, and to care for others. She doesn’t always say those things to us, but she shows it in the way she acts. She is kind and makes sure we are healthy and don’t give up. Girls With Sole has helped me so much by becoming more active, loving myself and knowing that no matter what, I am astonishing!”
Sharia, Age 11
“When I was eleven years old my dad passed away unexpectedly. My mom woke me up that night and broke the news to me. At first I thought it was a dream until my mom drove me to see him.
He was laying down with a tube shoved down his throat. I couldn’t even look at him. I cried for hours and hours. When we went to his house to gather his stuff it was really hard for me. I never got to say goodbye to him, never said I love him.
When I went to his funeral I didn’t want no hugs from nobody. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. In fact I was very mean. I started to do things that got me into trouble. I didn’t care about anything or anyone.
When I was twelve and a half I went to Residential Treatment Center and met Miss Liz. She was and still is a fun outgoing person. Girls With Sole has taught me to live life to the fullest. Living life to the fullest means to always look at the bright side of things. No matter what don’t look back. We keep moving forward and learn our strength.
Miss Liz taught me to look ahead because going back is not the way I should be going. Miss Liz and Girls With Sole taught me that when I’m hurting I need to observe because life is trying to teach me something. When I’m feeling down I need to pay attention, and that everything happens for a reason.
She taught me that there is always something to be grateful for. It doesn’t have to be a person. It could be a place, something we can do, or an object, nature or a goal. Miss Liz taught me that only I change my mood. There was a quote in one of our activities that said, “You are the painter of your own mood. Your days are only as grey as you allow them to be.” This quote really stood out to me. Not just because it’s so true, but because it’s a life lesson.
Only I can make me mad. Not others. Girls With Sole also taught me that the only limit is myself. If i want to do something I am the only one who can accomplish it. Although Girls With Sole taught me so much, these are the main things.
Thank you for helping me see my own strength.”
Jaleesha, Age 14
“What Girls With Sole did for me! My whole life has been an upside down roller coaster after my mom left when I was 2 years old. I was angry a lot and I hated myself and my family.
I used to blame my dad because I thought he was the reason she had left. As I got older I started to tell myself it was my fault. That there was something wrong with me because she still didn’t come back. I got in trouble all through elementary school for not listening.
When I turned 8 my Great Grandma let her boyfriend molest me until I was 12. After all of this my life continued to steer down a really bad path of me going to jail and getting in trouble at school. After a while the courts took me out of my dad’s house and put me with my Grandfather for a few months until I went back to my dad’s house and then back to jail. In 2017 I ran away from home trying to get away from my dad because he was physically and mentally abusive and I couldn’t be around him anymore. The next day I went to jail where I waited a few months and then came to RTC where I met Miss Liz. She’s the amazing woman who made me see more in myself than what I ever thought.
For the longest time I thought I was never worth anything and that I would grow up a failure. Since I have been with Miss Liz I have found confidence in myself and my body. I now know that I am worthy, and I’m a stronger person because of everything I went through. Miss Liz has shown me what the word motivation really means. And I am a good team member when it comes to sports. I have this quote that Miss Liz gave me that says Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.
Thank you for everything Miss Liz.”
“I’m writing about my life and how Girls With Sole has helped me. I never knew how to start something like this and I’ve finally figured it out. I’m going to start at the beginning.
I first started getting abused at the age of 6 on my birthday. I spilled pop on my dad’s lap and he put me in my bathing suit and took off his belt and started hitting me anywhere he could. It continued throughout the years. I started drinking alcohol at the age of 8 with my friends, our first drink was redbull and vodka.
My family moved when I was 9 , and my sister was taken by my aunt due to the fact that she wasn’t my dad’s daughter – but he was abusing her too. I started rebelling against my dad and was sexually molested by 3 high school boys until we moved again. Things were fine for a month or two until my dad found my mom’s escape plan and was enraged. My dad beat my mom in front of me with a metal hanger, so I ran outside and called my sister and exactly 6 minutes after I called 2 big trucks came in the driveway. These trucks had my sister, my cousin and like 5 of their friends. They tell me to call 911 and went inside to get my dad off my mama. By the time the police show up my dad is gone, the police put a warrant out for his arrest and he is picked up at work and released 4 months later. My parents get back together and it happens all over again and they still get back together.
For a few months things stayed non-abusive. Until my dad starts getting court papers about his ex-wife and he gets fired from his job, making his ager sky rocket. I come home from school on March 3rd 2014 and my dad is pissed. My dad walks in my room with my mom and grabs my hair and punches me twice. I begin crying and Boom! he hits me again. I, for the first time, hit him back. He gets more angry and continues hitting me and dragging me into the living room where he ends up breaking my nose. My dad goes to leave and I said to him “You are not going to be a coward and leave again are you?” He grabbed my hair, threw me to the ground and begins choking me until my mom pushed him off me. My dad stayed home that night and cut our phone cord. I went to school the next day and had to tell my counselor what happened. I couldn’t exactly hide my black eyes, busted lip and broken nose. My dad was removed from home and my life by the courts for 5 years. Since then I grew into really unhealthy habits like doing drugs and having numerous sexual partners. I was, in my mind and everyone else’s, trash and worthless, and treated myself that way too.
I was put in RTC and met Ms. Liz in the Girls With Sole group. This group has helped me so much with self respect and self esteem. Ms. Liz is fucking amazing. I found hope in Girls With Sole and realized I could get anger out by moving my body. We even boxed one day with real boxing gloves and it felt so good. One time we ran laps around the gym and every time we went by a long piece of paper that Ms. Liz hung on the wall….we would write negative things that people said to us in our lives. The whole sheet was full of horrible and ugly things. No one judged..we could be open and honest. Ms. Liz took the sheet down and held the paper with staff so we could run across the gym and bust through the paper football team style! Boom! It was incredible and so therapeutic.
Girls With Sole taught me I’m not what people said to me or what they did to me. I decide what my life will be and I’m worthy of happiness. I can do anything I put my mind to and don’t have to rely on my next high to feel good about myself.
I’m living a better and more healthy life and I’m happy about who I am.”
“My Story About Me and How Girls With Sole Helps Girls Like Me!
When I was three years old I was taken into foster care when I was sleeping. My parents weren’t doing anything wrong at that time but the people said it wasn’t the best environment. When I woke up I was around all of my big sisters and people I didn’t know, which was hard for me because I didn’t get to say bye to my mom or dad, and I woke up looking for them, but they weren’t anywhere to be found.
I was scared, worried and confused as to why I wasn’t at home, where I was, and why my parents or brothers weren’t there.
By the time I was six I started having suicidal thoughts. I was really upset and depressed and wanted to see my dad, mom and big brothers. So one time, I went outside with a butcher knife and ran into traffic. My foster people caught me, and that’s when I went to a mental hospital.
A couple weeks later when I got discharged I got sent to a new foster home. I came out of school one day and my new foster lady was there to pick me up and she had my older sister with her. We were so excited to see each other! I ran, jumped on her and we were laughing and hugging each other for a long while. When we got back to the house she did my hair, my nails and picked me out clothes and let me play with her makeup.
Me and my sister always used to call the foster lady by her name but added a miss in front of it. We never called her mom or foster mom because we had one already.
A couple months later, my oldest sister went home and I was so sad and scared when my foster lady dropped her off because I thought I was leaving too. But I wasn’t. I didn’t like when my big sister left because after she left my foster lady was more mean to me and never let me go outside. One time when I was hungry in the middle of the night I went downstairs and knocked on her door and told her that I was hungry. She told me to go back to my room and slammed the door on me. I was still standing there in the kitchen and knocked on her door again. I was half asleep when she dragged me up the stairs by my hair.
When I was seven years old I got to go home. But when the lady dropped me off, she helped me put my bags on the porch, knocked on the door and got in her car and left me standing on our front porch. At that time, my mom had two more girls, one was four and the other one was two. I took care of myself all the way up until I was ten years old. A lot of things were going on and I was hanging out with ghetto people, calling them my friends, and not being focused on myself. Those are the people that made me really ghetto and disrespectful. I started being very disrespectful to my mom, mean to my siblings, and also I wouldn’t care about my grades and I would get suspended for fighting and getting into and causing drama.
People started doing things to me and I started having more suicidal thoughts. I was so depressed going into my double digits because I was going through way too many things in life. It’s way too much for me to handle especially at a young age like this. My child life is so frustrating to me. There was a lot of fighting at home and one night I got out of bed and ran out of my house without any shoes on. My mom’s friend was outside and she caught me. I was running down the street and she was following me for an hour and then I finally went back home. At about twelve-thirty CFS came, talked to me, talked to my mom and sent me to the hospital for treatment. The next day I got to Bellefaire around six-forty five at night. That was the first time being at Bellefaire. My treatment was good and I was doing better but got into bad fights and destroyed property.
When I came to Bellefaire the second time I was able to be part of a group called Girls With Sole. This group helps me understand that I am not alone and that I am strong and powerful. When we run it makes me feel that I can also run through all situations in life without failing. My second time in Bellefaire is going to be totally worth it because I’ve improved a lot in the past three months , and me and my family’s relationship is way better than what I’ve caused in the past because of everything I have learned in Girls With Sole.
This group makes me feel like a good person and see that I can do great things. They gave me running shoes and sports bras and books. I am thankful for all the things Girls With Sole does to help me see a difference in myself and get me through my treatment. And I have had ZERO suicidal thoughts in NINE MONTHS!!”
Brianna, Age 13
“When I was 2 years old my dad went to jail for 5 years. When he got back, he wasn’t really back. When he was home he was drunk and abusive. We moved quite a lot. We were homeless for a little while too. When we moved in with my grandpa that’s the house where so much happened.
My grandpa locked me in his room and made me watch porn with him while my brother tried to get me out. My cousin was sexually abusing me while we lived there too. In every school I started I got bullied. I got punched, pushed, named called almost everyday. No one liked me and I never knew why, so I started not liking myself. I started cutting. Before that I was energetic and fun but with that and my cousin abusing me, I was very anti social. My cousin kept molesting me, and then my brother joined him. When I told, no one believed me.
My grandpa died of an overdose and because he was an alcoholic. I didn’t know things could get worse, but they did. My cousin would bring guys over to the house to abuse me. We moved again, and he came with us. My mom always let him. My depression increased a lot and I was hospitalized 4 times for suicide attempts. The houses we lived in had no electricity or heat. We took showers in the sink and there were bed bugs and roaches.
I ended up getting pregnant from my cousin. During my pregnancy he chased me around the house and threatened to kill me and the baby. My uncle found out about the baby and the bed bugs and that my brother and cousin were doing shit to me and he called the cops. My brother was sent to residential and I went into foster care.
In foster care it was really bad and I cut and wanted to shoot myself. I got taken to the hospital and then to OSU for two weeks. After OSU I was sent to Residential in Cleveland. In Residential I got to be part of Girls With Sole and it has helped me so much.
I miss my daughter and will never have her back. I still have hard times, but Girls With Sole gives me hope. I don’t hate myself anymore and I am starting to accept the things that have happened to me so I can learn to be stronger because of them. When we exercise and listen to music I know my life is good. Ms. Liz shows me that we can be grateful for even the bad things. My body isn’t my enemy and I can do amazing things if I take care of it. I’m strong and I will keep loving myself even when I get depressed. Girls With Sole is the one thing I look forward to every week and I will carry it in my heart forever.”
“Hi my name’s Aly and here I am writing about my story and how Girls With Sole has helped me. Honestly I’ve never really been the person to tell people about myself or the struggles I’ve faced throughout my life, but with this I feel as if I will feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders to actually be able to tell my story and not feel judged. But anyways, to start, the very first time I met Liz Ferro I was in RTC (residential treatment center) she said one word and it has stuck with me since and I believe forever will… “resilient”. When a person is able to bounce back from difficult situations. Well here’s the beginning to what makes me Aly.
It all started when I first started getting touched at the age of 7 even sometimes younger remember him even trying to have me “sleepover in his room”. My family left me with him a little girl with an old man. A man who would sit around in his boxers and make me sit on his lap when nobody was around. The old man who would tell me taking my clothes off in front of him was okay “that it was normal to love someone like this”.
How could I be so young and stupid, ya know?
It continued on for a couple years than I got older things got much worse. I would feel wrong and hate myself. I would blame myself. Why didn’t I say anything? Why didn’t I tell people? Because the old sick asshole would feed into my mind that if I told, nobody would believe me. I tried one time to tell the people around me… my family…. the people who were supposed to care and know me. They all told me how he would never do that. He would never hurt me; he loved me; I was his step grand daughter; how could he ever hurt me? And the worst part about it all was he went to church 3 times a week. Who would ever believe the church goer was sexually assaulting his own “grandchild”.
So as time went on I started self harming, becoming very delinquent, running away from home and foster homes because running from my problems at the time was the best option. I was impulsive, suicidal and I wanted an escape. Nobody understood me. I didn’t know what to do with my life. I felt so alone.
I started going into different foster homes, group homes, rtc. I got out of rtc two weeks before my 18th birthday. I got out and I had nobody. Being raped at a young age forces you to grow up fast. You do anything it takes to be loved, wanted, or needed because you don’t know what you did to be hurt the way you were. You lose respect for yourself and your body. You blame yourself for the things that nobody could control.
August 14, 2017 my road to recovery just began when I had to speak in a courtroom and tell a judge about the man sitting not even 20 feet from me getting what he deserves for what he did to me, and how I needed him to be locked away and put in prison for raping me repeatedly for years. I was just an innocent child. The countless times of torture and pain I endured for why I ask myself still till this day why a person would steal my innocence; my childhood; my ability to trust any human being in the world ever again. I will never understand the madness as I have become an adult everyone tells me to forgive and forget. Some days are a lot harder than others- like the moments you just want to be positive and happy- but you get flashbacks or you dream about the horrible things. It hits you like a ton of bricks… you feel afraid and in that moment again.
How do you bounce back from that and continue your day? It’s hard but it sure enough takes a lot of time and resilience. I’ve fallen, I’ve risen, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve lived and I’ve learned. I’m a human, not perfect. I appreciate Liz Ferro more than anyone could ever know for showing me through Girls With Sole so much love and teaching me to bounce back from the difficult situations. I would like to thank Mrs. Liz because without you I would have never had the courage I do right now to share my story with everyone thank you for being so awesome.”
Aly, Age 20
“Im’a tell you a story about my personal life and how much I love Girls With Sole. But before I get started, my name’s Mariah. I’m a nice and kind person and I don’t like when people are left out. Let’s get started.
My mom’s been through what I’ve been through. She’s been raped when she was 11 yrs old. The man who raped my mom got my mom pregnant. My mom didn’t know how to raise a child yet. She was a child herself. She got kicked out of school for being pregnant. But when she had my sister she gave her to my grandma to help raise her and she came out perfectly fine. Ever since my mom was raped she started being fast and had sexual intercourse with lots of men, did drugs and alcohol until she was 17 yrs old. She got pregnant and had my sister. My mom started working really hard and liked her job. She was a workaholic and had my 3rd sister but still had her own house. Then 7 yrs went by and my mom got pregnant with me in her late 28’s. I came with big eyes and a head full of hair.
When I turned 6 yrs old my dad started touching me and doing things that I’ve never did before. He told me if I told he was gonna kill me and so I never told….until I turned 9 yrs old. I couldn’t take it anymore and told my mom. She was shocked and started yelling and crying. She ain’t know what to do so she called my sister. My sister came to see what was going on and my mom told her I was getting raped for 3 yrs. She called the ambulance right away and they came to rush me to the hospital. They checked my personal parts to see if I was ok and stuff like that and it came back that he did touch me and rape me. And so the next day at 5 am I went to Franklin County Children’s Services. I was there for 12 hours and ended up going home with my sister. That was some bullshit because her boyfriend started beating me for months. I kept running away and got caught and went back to Franklin County Children Services. They sent me to the hospital because I had suicidal thoughts and after that I came to Bellefaire JCB.
At first I figured I would do my treatment and try to stay out of trouble so I could go back with my mom but then I was introduced to Girls With Sole and Mz Liz. She helps me feel peaceful and tells us we are also powerful. I love her and the program because I can see now that really bad things can happen to us but we can still be in control of our life. I would see Mz. Liz smile…even with the stuff she had happen to her in her past… and I would think I need to at least try to be happy here because I will be missing out on a great opportunity. Girls With Sole showed me that no matter what you’ve have been through the mistakes and paths you have taken, there is always room for improvement forgives and change. Girls With Sole is love and has showed me that in life I can do better and make better decisions and move forward. Always forward.”
“When I was 4 my father raped me for the first time.
Every day until I was 8. Everyday after I got out of school he would take me to the basement and do nasty things. My father used to put my brother in the shower and make me watch. When he seen I didn’t look he used to punch my brother saying “I am making you stronger.” My brother was 5 at the time.
I have seen my dad beat my mom a lot as a child. They broke up and got back together so many times. When I was 9 my mom met my step dad and we moved to PA. We lived in Penn Hills in Allegany County. Leon used to be a foster parent for 30 years and he loved my mom and us kids like his own. When Leon showed me love I didn’t know what to do so I use to act up. I would fight my mom, cuss people out, and get in trouble a lot of the time. We eventually moved back to Ohio again. When I came back I lived with my Aunt. While living there I started to do drugs like weed and acid and drink. Due to me doing drugs I became more irritable and we fought everyday until she had enough and pressed charges. I went to Faircrest in Canton, Ohio for 90 days and then I went to a group home in Uhrichsville for 11 months.
I left the group home with my shit together and when I went to a foster home when I was 13 I started to have sex with older men a lot. My foster sister introduced me to this fiiine guy. He was so nice to me. This guy gave me everything. The guy found out about my life and he tried to play “father figure”. After a while he became abusive. We did drugs all the time and had sex. I thought it was normal. I was doing this up until I was 14.
After about a year in my foster home a cousin contacted me and wanted to get custody. I was all for it. So I went to go live with her. My cousin let me do whatever I wanted. I started to party, do more drugs like cocaine, acid, shrooms, and a little meth. Every night I was pretty much fucked up. I was living like that and then my biological dad started writing me letters and texting me when he found out I was with my cousin. One night he took me and raped me with his drug dealer in Akron. When my cousin couldn’t find me she reported me missing. My dad and his drug dealer ended up putting me in a scalding hot shower and beat me. Then they dumped me in a ally on 7th St. NW Canton, Ohio.
I found out I had to go to court and I was scared so I ran to VA with these two men I knew for about 8 or 9 months. They promised me a great life, said I won’t have to pay for nothing. After a couple weeks I ended up in sex trafficking.
I was 2 months pregnant and the one guy beat me and I lost it. A man that came one night asked me my age. We became very close. He was heading to prison for murder and gun charges. He talked the other man into letting me have a phone. I contacted home and my aunt came and got me. While being down there, I saw them dump a body in a lake, do hella drugs and rape another 17 year old that was pregnant with twins.
I am now in Residential Treatment in Canton, Ohio. While being here at RTC I can see the first thing that can save me and help change me for the better is Girls With Sole. Girls With Sole showed me that no matter what I done in life I can still rock. Mrs. Liz treats me like her own and I love her. That lady took her time to hear my story and made me feel loved. The most important thing is she taught me I can and will be free one day.”