Connie Mercado in her own words…
From Tragedy to Safety
by Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson
Imagine a child riding in a car with a social worker that they hardly know. To a town that they have never heard before. Their mothers last words ringing over and over again in their head…"they're sending you to jail". "They're gonna beat you in there".
Imagine, if you will, this child getting out of the car with that social worker, walking up a huge set of stairs. Their little fists are clenched tightly, their heart is racing and tears are filling their eyes. As they walk up those stairs with their head hung low all they can think is "What did I do to deserve this?"
Now picture the look on their face as they look up and see the words "All who enter here find love", shining brightly above two enormous wooden doors.
For much of my young life, I had been physically abused by my mother. And just 4 days after my 7th birthday, my father sexually abused me.
At the age of 3 my mother slammed my head into the corner of a glass coffee table. And one time I refused to get my mother a beer, she place my hand on an electric stove, burning my hand so badly that I had the circular pattern seared on my tiny hand for weeks.
Both of my parents were alcoholics and used drugs. So when they were high, they would fight and when they fought it got bad. My father would end up leaving and every hour that my father was gone my mother would beat us more and more. She would beat us just for looking like him.
It wasn't until a teacher approached me on the school yard, in my yellow little dress and asked me "What happened to your legs?", that someone realized that something horrible was going on at home.
So after multiple foster homes and even Juvenile Hall (McClaren), because there were no foster homes with available beds, there I stood just 9 1/2 years old, looking up at those bright words...All who enter here find love.
That is my first memory of Children's Village (Childhelp). Not the jail that my mother told me that I was going to, but a safe haven, a place where I could be a child and not have the constant fear that I was going to be hit.
The Village is where I was LOVED, unconditionally and where I was nurtured. It is where I flourished and it was there that I learned that love does not hurt.
I survived all that I was put through because I was LOVED. I was loved by people , who believe they can make a difference in the life of a child, people like yourself who go out and encourage family and friends that there is a need to abolish this preventable epidemic.
At 35, I am the proud mother of 4 beautiful children. I am raising them with my fiance and his incredible loving family in Massachusetts.
It was here (at Childhelp) that I learned everything I know now. How to parent better, how to love unconditionally, how to forgive and accept that we are all human and that we all make mistakes. Those were the best three years of my young life.