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Shocking True Teen Stories
By Hearst Communications
Hearst Communications, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Hearst Communications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
A Tornado Destroyed My House—While I Was in It!
We've all been glued to the news about wild weather. But when a tornado hit Brooke, 18, it was all she could to hang on for her life.
As told to: Jane Bianchi
Just like other schools have fire drills, I'd always had regular tornado drills at my school in Town Creek, Alabama. Teachers would make us ball up into the fetal position against hallway walls and put books over our heads. That way, if the ceiling caved in, we'd be more protected. But I giggled through them all. It seemed so silly to prepare for a major storm when I'd never known anyone who experienced one. At home, my parents told me sternly over and over that if a tornado came our way, I should run to the bathroom. That was the one room that had no windows that could shatter, and it was in the middle of the house—the sturdiest part. So I always knew it was possible for a tornado to hit my town, but what were the chances of it actually happening?
The sky looked so weird on April 27. Some parts were clear while others were filled with dark rain clouds. And the clouds were moving super-fast in all different directions. Weather reports were predicting hail, and I was psyched—that meant no school! I curled up on the living room couch with a book as my mom folded clothes, my grandma napped, my little brother took a bath, and my three sisters played Nintendo DS and doodled. At 4 P.M., my sister Amber's fiancé, Zac, who was relaxing on the lawn, hollered for my mom to come outside. As they came back in a minute later, my mom said in an I-mean-business tone, "Bathroom. Now."
I knew something major was wrong. But there was no time to panic. All eight of us squeezed into our four-by-five-foot bathroom. The second we shut the door behind us, I heard what sounded like the crack of a baseball bat hitting a home run again and again. Then I heard glass shatter. Giant hail was pounding our roof and breaking our windows while Zac yelled over the noise, "A tornado is headed straight for us!"
I was terrified of what would happen next. Then I heard what sounded like an 18-wheeler revving its engine—a nonstop growl. I didn't know if the house would survive—or if my family would. We clutched each others' hands. The light in the bathroom flickered and then went out.
Within just two minutes, the tornado picked our house up off the ground. We screamed and pulled each other closer. We were probably in the air for a full minute, and the seconds ticked so slowly that it felt like forever. It reminded me of when I used to play "popcorn" on my trampoline. One person would jump in the middle and everyone around the edge would bounce in the air. Except this was a lot less fun.
Then the tornado lifted our shed and dropped it on top of our house, which was actually a blessing, because it stopped our house from blowing away and slammed it into the ground. We landed with a thud and my back rammed into the rim of the toilet. Then, as quickly as it had started, the noise died down. We waited, wondering if the tornado was coming back—or if there was another one right behind it. After a few minutes, we climbed out of the bathroom, breaking fallen tree limbs to escape.
I was relieved that we had somehow all survived. We all gathered in the driveway, because that was the only part of my house and lawn that was recognizable, and stared at the mess in disbelief. Then we did a group hug, while crying and whispering "I love you" to each other. I felt numb as I glanced down my street at the fallen trees and caved-in roofs and wondered if anyone else was still alive.
Now my whole family is living in two borrowed campers on our lawn, trying to piece our lives back together. I lost so many things—like my clothes, my laptop, and a stuffed animal from my BFF. So we've been living with stuff that friends and strangers have been kind enough to donate. It's hard, but the experience has made me much more laid-back. I used to worry constantly about homework and college and becoming a nurse someday. But now whenever anything starts to frustrate me or make me anxious, I stop and say to myself, Compared to a tornado, this is no big deal.CHAPTER 2
Both of My BFFs OD'd on Heroin!
Trying something risky may seem exciting at first. But Brandi, 20, and her best friends quickly saw their lives spiral out of control.
As told to: Jane Bianchi
I'll always remember driving around my Michigan suburb with Briona and Erika, my two BFFs. We'd blast Sara Evans's "A Little Bit Stronger" and sing at the top of our lungs. Then we'd go to the mall to try on the most expensive clothes and take funny pictures of ourselves. Those were our favorite things to do—besides heroin.
I met Bri during sophomore year of high school. At the time, I was a B student and an all-league cross-country runner. We became close when we started dating guys who were best friends. Her boyfriend and mine were the coolest, most powerful guys at school. We knew they were drug dealers and thought that made them bad-a**. They got us into the best parties and bought us jewelry. They made us feel popular!
After a few months of dating, my boyfriend offered me heroin at his house. Like a lot of kids at school, I had smoked pot and taken prescription painkillers on occasion, but heroin seemed scarier. Still, I was afraid that if I said no, my boyfriend would leave me and find another girl who'd say yes. I trusted him and figured that he'd never do anything to hurt me.
Heroin made me feel numb to my problems. It made me stop worrying about getting good grades or running faster. While I was getting hooked, Bri's boyfriend was introducing her to heroin at his house. And when Erika, a cute hippie girl in my math class, and I became friendly, I told her that I had tried heroin. She asked if she could try some too. Within months, she, Bri and I were getting high together every day—before school in the car, in the bathroom at lunch, and then after school at the guys' houses. It became a fun, secret escape that bonded us together. When we were high, nothing bothered us—we felt free.
But when you're on heroin for a while, you look like a zombie. I lost color in my skin, my eyes became sunken in, and I was emaciated. It's so hard to stop, because it's so addictive. If I didn't find a way to get high, I'd go through withdrawal—the worst sickness I've ever experienced. I'd get chills, the shakes, and nausea until I shot up again to make those feelings go away. That's when I'd truly feel gross, like an addict.
Our habits got so bad that we'd each spend $140 a day to stay high and avoid withdrawal. We did grimy things to get money. We'd steal jewelry from friends' houses and pawn it. One time I stole $3,000 from my twin sister's college savings fund! As punishment, my parents kicked me out of the house for a little while. I am deeply ashamed now, but back then, I didn't care. My only focus was getting more drugs.
By junior year, my life had fallen apart. I quit running, I lost any friends who didn't do drugs, and my family was fed up with me. I got kicked out of school for skipping class, and then I got kicked out of an alternative school for drug possession. Next I got kicked out of rehab for breaking rules and went to jail for six months. When I was lying on a concrete bench in jail using a toilet paper roll for a pillow, I felt like a criminal. During that time, Erika was also in and out of jail, and Bri did some time in a juvenile detention center. We had no choice but to get clean. The withdrawal was horrible, but it was a relief to wake up and not need heroin.
But the moment we all got out, we fell right back into our old habit of getting high together. We had no idea how to be around each other and not do drugs. About once a month, one of us would overdose and get rushed to the hospital. Doctors always brought us back, though. We felt so invincible that even before we'd leave the hospital parking lot, we'd do heroin again.
Last February, I went into withdrawal and decided to quit—and I wanted to convince Bri and Erika to quit, too. But then I got a call from Erika. "Bri died! She overdosed last night!" she said, hysterical. I didn't believe her at first. I kept calling Bri's phone over and over, just to hear her voice on the message. Slowly it sunk in. She wasn't going to answer the phone. Erika and I hung out two nights later, and she said, "Do you want to use just one more time?" I said, "Absolutely not." And she shrugged and said, "One more time won't kill me."
But she was wrong. Just when I thought life couldn't get any worse, Erika died from an apparent heroin overdose, too. After I had gone home that night, she used in her bedroom.
LEARNING FROM LOSS
It's been months, and I'm still figuring out how to live without my BFFs. At first, I thought it was a crazy coincidence. But now I think: No, this is what happens when you do heroin. People die.
I broke up with my boyfriend, and I haven't touched drugs since. I'm not clean because rehab or jail forced me into it. I'm clean because I want to be.
I've been volunteering to tell my story at high schools, drug courts, and juvenile detention centers in my county. I want teens to know that this drug doesn't care how old you are or what you have going for you—it just wants to kill you. I somehow survived, so I want to tell Bri and Erika's story to make sure they didn't die for no reason.
That's the number to call if you or a friend is battling drug addiction. The free 24/7 hotline run by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration will help you find a treatment center near you.CHAPTER 3
I Was Charged with Sexual Assault ... of My Boyfriend!
Before Tiffany, now 18, slept with her guy, she discussed it with her parents—and made sure she had protection. She didn't know she was about to commit a crime.
As told to: Veronica Byrd
One day during the summer of 2006, I was hanging out at a friend's house when I met this cute guy I hadn't seen before. He had wavy brown hair and sexy green eyes, and it turned out that he was a freshman at my high school in River Falls, Wisconsin. Even though he was 15 and I was then 17, we started talking and really hit it off. We even liked the same songs (one favorite was "She's Everything," by Brad Paisley). I saw him again a few weeks later, and we started dating.
Soon we were officially boyfriend and girlfriend. I felt so close to him; I could tell him everything. When we decided to have sex, it felt like the right decision. (I made sure we used a condom, because I'd had boyfriends before and I'd already talked with my mom about sex. She warned me about STDs—and insisted that I take birth control pills.)
Over the next five months, my boyfriend and I spent more and more time together, hanging out or playing video games. When my mom wasn't home, we'd make out and sometimes have sex. I was happy: I had a boyfriend who loved me!
I was in class at school in January 2007 when my teacher told me I had to go to the principal's office. When I got there, a police officer was waiting. As he led me into another room, I tried to think what I could've done wrong. When he asked, "Do you know what this is about?" I shook my head. Then he told me that someone had called the local Child Protective Services office and reported that my boyfriend and I might be having sex. (I never learned who ratted me out or why.) "Are you having sex?" he asked. I said, "Yes. Am I in trouble?" He said no and let me return to class.
Later that day, my boyfriend called me at home and said he'd also been questioned. "Why are we in trouble for something other people are doing too?" he wondered. "The cop even said you could be charged with a crime!"
By then I was terrified. I ran to my mom and told her everything. She was so upset, she drove me to the police station to find out what was going on. A different police officer finally told me the facts: I had committed a crime by having sex with my boyfriend because he was under "the age of consent" (which is 16 in my state), and investigators were looking into the matter to decide if it should go to the district attorney. If it did, the DA could charge me with sexual assault. I can't believe this, I thought—I'm not a criminal! I cried the whole way home.
I didn't hear from the police for the next month or so, and neither did my boyfriend. Then one day, I got a summons from the DA saying that I was being charged with the sexual assault of a child—and that if convicted, I could get up to 40 years in prison. I totally freaked out! I kept thinking, Oh my God, I'm going to jail! My mom tried to stay calm. She started calling around to find a public defender who would represent me.
A month later, in April, I appeared before the judge. It was so scary. He asked if I understood the charges, then told me I'd need to appear in court again for a few more hearings. (My boyfriend couldn't come, because the law prohibited me from seeing him.) Within days, the local paper ran an article about my court case. I was so embarrassed, I started bawling! For the rest of the school year, kids talked about me. I fell into a major depression; I didn't want to go to school. It was completely awful.
Three months after my hearing, I finally received my punishment: I was prohibited from communicating with my boyfriend at all until July 2008. If I do, I might go to jail. It was devastating news.
I'm still really depressed about everything. I see my boyfriend at school, but we're not supposed to talk. I love him, and I know he still loves me. It's hard being apart. I care about him more than ever—and hope that a year from now, he'll still be my boyfriend.
It Happened to Them Too!
Tiffany isn't the only teen to get punished for fooling around.
Genarlow was a football star at an Atlanta, Georgia, high school. In 2003, when he was 17, he went to a New Year's Eve party and hooked up with a girl, 15, who willingly gave him oral sex. A friend videotaped it, and Genarlow was charged with aggravated child molestation, found guilty, and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Civil-rights groups protested the harsh sentence, but he's still behind bars.
Charlsey was 15 and a freshman when she started dating an 18-year-old senior at her Milton, Florida, high school. When her dad found out that she was having sex with an older guy, he was so angry that he called the cops. Her boyfriend was arrested, charged with sexual assault, and spent a year in jail. He and Charlsey (now 20) have since broken up, but he's still paying for his mistake: He has to register as a sex offender.CHAPTER 4
I Was Forced to Pose Nude Online!
Amanda, now 15, never expected a casual online friend to turn into a stalker—and nearly ruin her life.
As told to: Veronica Byrd
"Hey, what's up?" read an IM message I got one day in October 2005. I didn't know who it was from—the screen name didn't look familiar but I thought it might be someone from my school (in Clearfield, Utah), because he seemed to know me. "Nothing much. Who's this?" I asked. He told me his name was Shaun and that he was 17 and lived in New York. It turned out he had seen my IM screen name a few days earlier while surfing in a Yahoo! cheerleading chat room.
He asked about my school, and the kind of music and movies I was into. He wasn't interested in me as a girlfriend—he just wanted to talk.
Over the next few months, Shaun IMed me a few times. It seemed like he didn't have a lot of friends, so I felt bad for him and kept replying. After about six months, he would message me every week and get mad if I couldn't talk. It seemed a little weird, but I thought he was harmless, so I would respond to him when I had nothing better to do.
CROSSING THE LINE
My family was moving to Ohio, so I got a webcam to keep in touch with my friends. I'd been chatting with Shaun for a few months, just about boring, regular stuff. But then one night he started talking dirty. "Have you had sex before?" he asked. Ewww! I thought, and tried to change the subject. Then he asked if I'd show him my breasts. My throat tightened, and I didn't know how to respond. I told him I had to go—and stopped talking to him for a few weeks. But he changed account names and sent me threatening messages, so I responded to his IMs. He kept demanding that I take off my clothes. Finally I wrote, "I don't think we should talk anymore," and turned off my computer.
NO WAY OUT
After I moved, Shaun kept sending e-mails, again demanding that I undress for him. "If you don't show me your breasts, I'll come to your house and rape you and kill your family!" he wrote one night. Would he do that? I wondered. He lived in New York, but he said he knew my home address. I started crying—I felt like I was being held hostage. I had no idea what to do. I hadn't told my parents, because I thought I could handle it. But now, if I didn't do what Shaun said, he might try to hurt me or my family. So I slowly pulled up my blouse, lifted my bra, and showed him my breasts—crying the whole time. I held up my shirt for about seven seconds and asked him if that was enough. He said yeah, and I shut off my computer.
Excerpted from Shocking True Teen Stories by Hearst Communications. Copyright © 2012 Hearst Communications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Hearst Communications, Inc..
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