Yolanda Varona was kidnapped at knifepoint by a jilted former boyfriend. He stripped her naked and drove her into the mountains near San Diego. He raped her; he said if she told anyone he’d kill her children. After hours of pleading, she convinced him to let her go. “I’ll never be the same woman,” she said of that day of terror, more than 10 years ago.
But what happened next may have been even more difficult: despite being an undocumented immigrant, Varona called the police. She helped law enforcement find her attacker and put him in jail. And she went to court to testify.
“I was terrified of presenting myself at court,” Varona recalled. “I imagined that by some terrible injustice, I’d end up being deported.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes and was immediately inside the nauseating memory. Half an hour earlier, she'd swallowed a capsule filled with grayish crystals of MDMA. Before that, her therapist, Holly, had painted circles on the ground around her with burnt sweet-grass. The smell lingered.
Elizabeth (that's a pseudonym) felt her legs start to shake. She was stretched back on an unfamiliar futon with her feet together and her knees open in a butterfly position. She saw Holly to her left, still and steady, watching. As Elizabeth closed her eyes again, her mind shoved her straight into reliving her rape.
When she was 12, Gabby Falzone and her family became homeless in New York. At 15, she ran away. She moved between squats and stints with her family, but said she suffered too much abuse from them to stay for long. At 17, she moved to Boston, where she said she survived by exchanging sex for rent. At 19, she got into a friend’s car and drove to San Francisco. Within a month, she said, she was shooting heroin. “I kept thinking that if I escaped where I had just been, it would get better, not really understanding that that’s not how you get away from trauma,” she said.
When baby Rodrigo was born, he didn’t make a sound. Lucy Gomez had been in a Fresno County hospital for a week since she first showed signs of labor. She'd reached only 23 weeks in her pregnancy before she gave birth—barely within the realm of viability for life outside the womb—and something was very wrong.
She remembers her doctor directing her not to push her placenta out, but to keep it intact until the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) team arrived. “He's been born in his sac,” the doctor said. Gomez lay on her side and cried. Stillness surrounded her. “It must have taken them like three to five minutes [to enter the room]. But, it was eternal,” she told me.
After ABC News investigation, congressmen question 'appalling' border officer conduct
Two congressmen are demanding answers from the government officials charged with oversight of U.S. Customs and Border Protection after an ABC News investigation that shed light on a tragic 2013 episode at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Government surveillance video obtained by ABC News shows two Customs and Border Protection officers appeared to encourage — or at least permit — a 16-year-old Mexican high school student named Cruz Velazquez to drink from a bottle that tests later revealed contained concentrated liquid methamphetamine. He died shortly afterward from acute methamphetamine intoxication.
Dani Geen was 18 when she was in a severe accident: the car spun violently and was smashed on all four sides. The force of the seatbelt broke all of Geen’s ribs and caused internal abscesses. She came to in an ambulance, panicking from pain and shock, and felt the sharp stab of a needle—the injection of a tranquilizer.
Her recovery in the hospital and at home was bolstered by Norco and Percocet, to which she built up a hefty tolerance. Zanaflex calmed her muscle spasms. Her insomnia was quieted with Trazodone. With new nerve pain came Gabapentin.