Yasmine: The Long Road Home

Yasmine was good at hiding in plain sight. Thirteen-years of living with a drug addicted mother will do that to just about anybody. Over time her grades began to slip, and she slowly stopped walking home with her friends. Third Way Center helped set her on a different route.

Every day in the spring of 1997, Yasmine accompanied three classmates as they walked home after school. Occasionally a brief April shower would join them too. Refreshing droplets brought the faint scent of soggy pavement and chalk as her friends talked about school, upcoming birthdays, and family plans.

With her eyes fixated on the cracks of the damp sidewalk, Yasmine remained silent and continued walking. As each friend departed, lumbering up the steps to their front doors, she often wondered what life must be like behind those brick walls.

Could their homes be that much different from her own?

Like clockwork, Yasmine would smile and wave goodbye. With her back turned, her demeanor changed as quickly as a rainy day in Denver. Now alone, she trudged on.

Yasmine was good at hiding in plain sight. Thirteen-years of living with a drug addicted mother will do that to just about anybody. Over time her grades began to slip, and she slowly stopped walking home with her friends. While her mother slid deeper into a dangerous drug habit, Yasmine became increasingly disengaged from the world around her.  Like so many teens at Third Way Center, Yasmine’s life was put on hold by the regular occurrence of neglect, torment, and abuse.

By age 14 she was removed from her mother’s custody—the result of doctors discovering that Yasmine’s newborn baby sister would live with severe health complications for the rest of her life due to her mother’s intense drug addiction. Shortly after, Yasmine was ordered by the court to live with a few distant family members. Under their care she endured unspeakable trauma. Secluded and grappling with the residual scars of years of abuse, neglect, and mental health problems, Yasmine ran away.

Homeless, on the run, and soon to be a teenage mother, Yasmine knew she needed to improve her situation. She attempted to enroll back in school, but was caught by authorities and her newborn child was taken away from her.

After two failed placements, the Department of Human Services brought Yasmine to Third Way Center’s Residential Child Care Facilities (RCCFs). Understandably, she struggled with trusting anyone—her life was filled with heartache and the broken promises of people in positions of trust. She was defiant and had severe behavioral issues stemming from her untreated childhood trauma. Staff worked tirelessly to help Yasmine understand the truth of her situation and her potential. She had never experienced adults taking interest in her story before. Previous placements only focused on changing her behavior and never considered the tragedies she had experienced.

Third Way Center’s unique Six Boxes Methodology gave her the treatment she needed, providing Yasmine a space to unpack and process past neglect and abuse. From here, she was able to establish positive behavior patterns and new ways of being. The bottom line, staff helped her transform hopelessness into hope.

Determined, she focused all of her energy on improving her life, regaining custody of her daughter, and transitioning out of Third Way Center. By 2001 she did just that. Yasmine, emancipated from our Lincoln Street Supervised Apartments that year, moving into her own apartment with her daughter as part of our Next Steps program until 2002, when she successfully graduated from Third Way Center.

It’s hard to imagine the trials and injustices Yasmine experienced throughout her young life, or even the amount of strength she must have had to overcome it all. Just five years earlier, a home seemed like a place filled with drug addiction and endless pain, but Third Way Center’s intervention gave her an opportunity to heal. With the skills she’s learned, Yasmine can now create a loving, stable home for her daughter, much like the ones she imagined her classmates entered each day after school.

It has truly been a long road home.