Travon was being abused at home from the age of 7, and it was only after he ran away and became homeless aged 16 that he was placed into foster care.
“Living at home with my Dad was like living in a prison – he was very physically and verbally abusive and he controlled everything I did. I felt unable to create an identity for myself. When someone is constantly putting you down and dictating every aspect of your life the necessity to get away becomes the only way out and I ran away and slept on night buses rather than put up with my home-life. I was 16 and naïve, vulnerable to all kinds of things but I felt free for the first time in my life. What I know now is that I was running from one bad track to another – my so called “freedom” sleeping rough would have eventually killed me but the emotional trauma I was getting away from at home was impossible to endure. I remember I dyed my hair and had my ears pierced – little things that meant a lot as it was something I could do to express myself without the fear of abuse. I was able to do things that did not result in a ‘smackdown’
Many young people fall into a trap when they have a lack of control in their lives; and children in care always have this challenge that binds them together – distinct lack of control about their own lives. Sometimes that trap will be criminal activity, sometimes addiction or like me – making myself homeless; and they will do this as a way of feeling like they have their own choices and can exercise their own control. Once you are in the care system,your whole life can be dictated, and ironically we choose ways out of this for ourselves that are just as unsafe and put ourselves in more harm.
What I needed was unconditional love, acceptance, – the feeling that I could be ‘broken’ but still be accepted, and what was great about meeting my employment coach at DFF was that I wasn’t labelled and was guided with an honesty that I could tell came from a place of kindness.Helping isn’t about giving us a place to live and giving us money – it’s seeing us as we really are; this is what my coach at DFF did for me; and allowing me the freedom to see what I needed to change for myself and progress with my life. I was 19 when I came to Drive Forward and I was initially very dismissive as I had the mentality that everyone in the so called “system” had an agenda which seemed to suggest “we can fix you” which led me to feel let down and disappointed. With Drive Forward I was able to get to that important next stage of accepting myself and a greater awareness of what I can achieve despite the challenges I have faced and therefore “fix myself”
Travon is now an ambassador for the Drive Forward Foundation and has started an internship doing social communications.