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Taking a chance on love

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Before she could walk, Bri learned that those closest to her would abandon her.

Her meth-addicted parents were imprisoned shortly after her birth. Once released, her father terrorized her: He kept her in an unfurnished basement room, beat her, and starved her. On her birthday, he told Bri that was the day she ruined his life.

She came to school every day in the only outfit she had, bruised and underweight, but no one stood up for her. When Bri at last dared to escape to a friend’s house, she poured out her plight. The police were called…and promptly returned her to her father’s wrath. She was 13 and weighed only 70 lbs.

For the next four years, she careened through abusive foster homes, toxic relationships, depression, hospitalizations, and finally, suicide attempts. She attended 17 schools. One of the few adults in her life who did not fail her was her volunteer court-appointed special advocate (CASA), who has been paired with Bri since she escaped her father’s grip.

Now 17, self-aware and intelligent, Bri tells her life story in a confident voice. The day after our interview, she started a new job. She’s in a healthy, supportive relationship and is living in a safe environment. She’s pursuing her GED; she likes to write poetry. However, her scarred self-esteem reminds her that every human interaction is a risk: Can I trust you? Will you turn on me? Will you abandon me, too?

Everyone featured here has taken extraordinary steps to accomplish incredible things. However, it could be argued that Bri is the only one who gets up every morning and pushes all her chips to the center of the table.