“My name is Sara Mendoza. I’m 18 years old and I went to Acadiana High School,” Sara said.
This part of her story sounds like that of a typical High School senior who recently graduated and is embracing a college career, however, her life was anything but.
She told News 10 that she “is someone who has been through so much childhood trauma.” She continued, “I’ve been through a lot in my life.”
But you would never know by her confidence, maturity, focus, and her gentle nature that she endured years of abuse from her parents.
“The abuse really started mostly, probably after we moved to Duson from Erath. I moved and it started in about my 8th-grade year.”
She recalled a cold school day and putting on a jacket that set off her mom.
“She had gotten mad at me and like body slammed me to the ground and stuff,” she said.
That was just one of many of her darkest days in a life of abuse that included mental and physical attacks. It would be tough for anyone, but especially for a young girl living with a chronic disease.
“I have a bone disease. It’s like extra bones in my knees and it hurts a lot. They would make me get on my knees all the time even at 17 years old. They used to have a thing where I’d sit on an “x” made out of tape on the floor and I had to sit on my knees on that all day from like five or six in the morning until nine at night.”
Sara said that her parents would watch her on a Ring camera. and that she was allowed only two or three bathroom breaks all day and only five to 30 minutes to do two hours of homework.
She also had to clean the house and care for her siblings.
Sara’s dad worked offshore and her mom, a drug addict and homeless, stayed in different places with friends or people she knew.
“She got mad and dad told me he was kicking me out of school. He dropped me off at my mom’s. She didn’t have a house. She was staying with someone. He dropped me off with the clothes on my back. I had pj’s on and Walmart shoes,” she said.
Shoes that she was bullied for at school as if she didn’t have enough to deal with.
“I called my nanny and told her I need a place to stay, I don’t have anywhere to go,” she said.
Sara told News 10 that was one of the most painful times of her life but would eventually provide an escape from a life of abuse.
“I had to enroll in school through the homeless department, file a restraining order, and dropped it so dad would sign over custody.”
Custody to her nanny, her mom’s friend who practically raised her and her siblings. She said that her nanny wasn’t the only help she had, however.
“My school librarian, she helped me out a lot. I talked to her a lot, shed a few tears. She helped through everything, talked me through everything. I really just focused on school, that was my escape,” she told News 10.
Despite all she endured, Sara said, “I don’t have any resentment towards them because it made me into the person I am today. Honestly, I don’t think I would be able to go to college without the Glenn Armentor scholarship. That helped me a lot. I just think that everything that happened in my past, it pushed me to become the person who I am today and for that I am grateful. Everything happened for a reason.”
Today to Sara is doing well in her first semester at UL Lafayette and is preparing for finals, in the beginning of what she hopes will lead to her chosen career as a social worker.
She also told News 10 that she wants to help children who are dealing with what she faced and ultimately conquered.