As with all the women I interviewed, it was wonderful and humbling chatting with and getting to know Alisha. The day I conducted a video interview with her, she had a sleepless night and she was also recovering from a severe physical assault which left her with a badly bruised eye and stitches on her forehead and several other spots on her head.  I chose to extract some of the valuable things she said during this lengthy interview rather than show the entire video.  Iíd like to interview her again in the future under better circumstances.


Alishaís sensitivity towards children and her siblings soon became
apparent as we talked.  Sheíd  had a childhood of physical and
sexual abuse and as an adult suffered years of spousal abuse.

I interviewed her in her hotel hallway and she continued with her
daily activities as we chatted, which included washing her hair,
eating, digging thru her boxes and bags and smoking rock.

I interviewed Alisha just before Xmas:

Today I was really depressed
That time of the year
The worst time . . .
When you have kids and they take them away from you
I never used (drugs) when I was pregnant
Iím really against people screwing up kidsí life and stuff
. . . like my mom

she claimed:
My mother was a prostitute
 . . . sold me when I was 6 years old
takes a lot of pills
got addicted by my dad

Alisha said she was born addicted becuz of her motherís addiction

My memories from childhood are,
like, really scattered.
bits + pieces, you know.
She does recall  wetting the bed
I was being sexually abused when I was sleeping.
My mom wasnít too choosy about the guys (she brought home).

Later she added that her mother would
 . . bring home a different guy every fucking night.

She spoke of 'on stop beatings and having
no food in the house,
just onions and flour
My whole family used to hide
underneath my motherís bed.
all 4 of us.

I hated being in foster homes

    I was really close to my brother and sisters.
    I missed my mom like hell when I was put in a foster home
    becuz sheís the only mom I ever knew.
    and she didnít deserve to be called a mom.

    She spoke of sexual assault in these foster homes.
    In one of these abusive families, her foster
    father was a policeman and the mother was a teacher.

    Iím pretty mad @ God myself, you know.
    If he letís all . . . heís supposed to be . . .
    about little kids . . .
    and shit like that, and . . .
    He letís shit happen . . . sexual abuse . . .
    how that can go on
    Where people can get foster kids,
    theyíre not even theyíre own children
    and thatís what really bothered me
    about my foster parents
    is that they got paid a lot of money to
    . . . and fuck up the kids lives
    that have nothing to do with
    them, you know,
    and on top of that they are commended
    for their contribution to society.
    Meanwhile, they are all hypocrites.
    I think I had one good family.

    Well, the thing is, anyone could become a foster parent
    and thereís no way to know right?

But there should be, like, I guess . . .
Cuz the government pays so much money for people to be
taken in and stuff
like they get money for the food and stuff
I know a lot of foster parents that . . .
They (the kids) get the bare minimum,
they donít get money for clothing allowance.
They get the other kids hand me downs.

21 years been down here (the downtown eastside)
This guy brought me down here . . .

. . . I never touched heroin till I was 26
I didnít want to be like my mother.

Referring to the hotel where I interviewed Alishia
. . . my mom . .  this is the first place she fixed herself.

Last Christmas was really bad.
I put blocks in the windows
(so the window could not be opened wide enough to get out)
Iím really suicidal
I wanted to be put on the top floorí

And on my birthday last year
is when they had Debraís memorial . . .

It must have been a pretty sad time, I say to her.

Oh yeh, considering she called me ĎMomí and wrote her
goodbye note on my journal.
Just saw her that day
'Guess what Mom,
in Jan 200, Iím eligible for day parole,
thatís not too far away is it?'
 'No, you can do it standing on your head.'
It was her birthday May 1st, 1981.
She died in 1999.

Iím not a hypocrite

          I do drugs becuz I donít care anymore.
          Iíve lost it.
          I feel like Iíd rather be dead
          and the sooner the better.  Seriously.
          I get this bullshit done to me
          (points to her black eye)
          I look like Frankensteinís daughter.
          I got stitches all over my head.
          I canít even fucking see straight . . .

when I asked about her about the high
Actually, itís pretty much a waste of time, me smokin just becuz it just doesnít get me . . .

I donít want this anymore
Cuz when Iím fixing I get all fucked up and people take advantage of me
You know, thatís how I get fucked over
Thatís how I get fucking robbed . . . people steal from me . . . dig in my pockets.

            . . . I give up my last everything for everybody
            and make sure everyoneís looked after
            Itís the mother inside of me.
            cuz I never had a Mom.

Alisha plans to go to school, take some courses.
She tells me she's already taken a lot of courses.

But later she adds:
Next year is going to be hell. 


Black-and-white photos by Chris Young


Copyright 2001:  Ellavon: An Ezine of Basic Culture and Kat Kosiancic.