"I was just eight years old when I left Peru. Until then, the only “parents” I knew were my biological grandparents and I was taken away from them. I was left in their care from infancy while my parents migrated to United States as my dad had found work in New York City. Upon arrival in NYC I felt mostly confused, like I did not belong. I felt like an outsider. My integration was, in a nutshell, very difficult. I cannot recall any fond memories for a long time. So here I was, far away from the only home I had ever known. I did not speak the language and was now living with my biological parents and younger sister who was born in the US. I did not really know them at all; they did not feel like my family. My integration was not easy on them either; I could see that now, my sister and I would fight a lot.
I am also an incest survivor. I survived 8 years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of my biological father when I moved to New York. And when I turned 19, my father was finally incarcerated for the abuse and eventually deported to Peru. This had a life-changing impact on everyone. His visa was revoked and I also left the country to avoid testifying against him. It was a painful period for all of us - my mother and sister in the US and my grandparents and other family in Peru. I then moved back to Peru but didn’t feel like I belonged there either. I had lost some of my native language and upon my return people kept asking me where I came from and why I was back in Peru, which was too painful and complicated to explain fully. Eventually I grew tired having to explain that I was Peruvian and this was my birth place. I continued to feel lost and alienated and felt like I had no choice but to return to the US one year later, undocumented.
Upon my return, education became the most important thing to me. I worked two jobs to take me through Bronx Community College and even got married while at City College. I am currently completing my Masters in Social work at Columbia University – this is a lifelong dream being realized and something that I feel very passionate about. I now work with immigrant families and survivors of domestic abuse and often share my story with them. I feel open and empowered enough to share my story with the world and I can see that it makes a difference, that my life and experiences matter. I feel as though I can bring something unique to the table - I can identify with what many of them are going through, particularly undocumented migrants. That feeling of being undocumented can be overwhelming, it is easy to loose motivation, to lose hope. In the end, my life is testimony that a lot of things can happen along the way, bad things, but you have to keep going. Set goals and keep working towards achieving these goals. I am now happily married with a step-son and a loving husband. My relationship with my mother and sister continues to improve over time."