April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and through Promises2Kids programs, those who have experienced abuse are given a chance to break the cycle.

Claudia, a San Diego State University Sophomore, grew up in a home of physical abuse and neglect. Claudia has used the difficulties of her past as motivation for her school work. Promises2Kids has been encouraging and supporting Claudia through high school and into college with the financial and emotional assistance she needs for success.

Claudia grew up with an alcoholic, abusive mother and an absent father with an addiction to drugs. As circumstances worsened at home, Claudia and her sister stopped going to school to take care of their youngest sister and the cooking and cleaning that was being left undone by their parents. Claudia and her sister would only go to school if they were hungry, and to take as much food as they could back to their youngest sister. This would lead to years of struggling to catch up with peers, later in Claudia’s life. At the time, Claudia and her sister’s thought this life of neglect and abuse was normal. Claudia’s mother moved their family around a lot, to avoid anyone noticing that her children were not in school. By 6th grade, Claudia had lived in 14 different hotel rooms across three different states, and had attended 7 different schools.

In the summer’s Claudia and her sister’s would visit their grandmother in San Diego. In their grandma’s neighborhood, there lived a couple with children of their own. The couple, Raul and Eileen Arzola, provided toys for their children to play with, which they shared with Claudia and her sisters. When Claudia was in 6th grade, she grew very close with this couple, telling them what it was like to live with her mother. From the way that Claudia spoke and read, Eileen and Raul could recognize that Claudia was being denied her education, and from the stories Claudia told, they knew it was her mother keeping her from school. Claudia told the couple that she did not want to live with her mother any more, and eventually called Child Protective Services on her mom. Raul and Eileen, who Claudia calls her “Nino and Nina”, went on to be Claudia’s first and final foster family. They helped her with extra tutoring, to catch her academic level from a 1st grade level to reading and writing along with her peers. Raul and Eileen taught Claudia basic hygiene skills that she never learned from her own parents.

Despite her slow start, Claudia graduated high school with honors and went on to attend San Diego State University where she is now studying Public Health. Claudia plans to go on to earn her Master’s Degree, then after work as a social worker in the Naval Hospital. Claudia has been a part of Promises2Kids since 2014, and appreciates the support she has received through our various programs.