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Teen Rises Above Painful Past to Chart Bright Future

Yesenia found hope and courage on her journey of healing with Boys Town California’s help.

Yesenia came to Boys Town ​California as a young girl whose childhood and innocence had been robbed by abuse, neglect, and pain.

Growing up in Riverside with her younger sister, Yesenia endured daily beatings at the hands of her mother. She was further victimized when her mother’s boyfriend began abusing her. Yesenia, who was only 8 years old, found the courage to tell a teacher what was happening, and she and her sister were removed from their home.

But the hurt Yesenia had suffered didn’t end there. Traumatized and lacking any family support, she lashed out, getting into fights with other girls and enclosing herself in a tough shell of self-preservation.

After a number of failed placements and runaways, 14-year-old Yesenia became part of a family in Boys Town California’s residential program. Her Family-Teachers ®, Jess and Christin Montoya, welcomed her with patience and love, trying to help the teen quiet her aggressive behaviors and adjust to the structure and order of the Family Home.

It took a while, but Yesenia gradually accepted the safe, nurturing environment she was in and began to make positive changes in her life. Through the Montoyas’ teaching and with the help of trauma therapy, Yesenia began a transformation, both emotionally and physically, that put her on a path toward healing.

Today, Yesenia lives in a foster home in Rancho Santa Margarita and is a senior in high school. She is doing well in her classes and has a part-time job. And, for the first time in many years, she can see a brighter future ahead.