— by Jeffrey Gregory

Every child deserves loving, caring, protecting parents, and a beautiful world full of opportunities and possibilities around them. Unfortunately, some children receive abuse, neglect, and loneliness from their families and surroundings instead of affection and nurturing. One of my collogues, Ms. Keeks is one of those unfortunate children who had to endure assaults and neglect throughout their childhood, yet this 21-year-old young woman is among a few inspiring and courageous women who not only came out with their stories but also find compassion and understanding for others in the scars of their emotional wounds.


Meet Keeks


The early years of Keeks’ childhood life were wonderful. She was the happiest child around without a care in the world, as most young girls should be. However, the innocence, the happiness were shattered when a dark and deep family secret came to light to the five-year-old Keeks. She learned that she was adopted, and after learning this scary news her life turned upside down, in all the wrong ways.


“My life turned to hell,” Keeks said. “Physical and sexual abuse and other major changes came into the picture and I began saying ‘I cannot wait to die.”


After finding out about her adoption Keeks felt like nothing more than just a pawn within the family unit, just going along with other people’s moves. Keeks would be psychically beaten up leaving her severely hurt, and not to mention the emotionally abused. She would always be told different forms of the truth about who she was and where she came from.


You are probably wondering how could this happen to such an innocent young girl? These are questions we will never know. This type of abuse to young children leads to future terrible trauma memories and can lead to severe depression or suicide. Keeks said that in her darkest of times she would go to the local train tracks to find peace and solace. “I would always go to the train tracks; it was my safe space,” Keeks said. “I even once tried to kill myself there.”


Keeks remembers a time in school where she wrote a suicide note in class along with a poem to go with it. Thankfully, the note fell out of her pocket and her teacher found it and told another teacher about it. After getting caught Keeks ripped up the note in the smallest of pieces so no one would be able to place it back together to read what it said.


After being taken to the hospital for suicide watch, the hospital staff worked desperately to place the ripped-up note back into place. Luckily, they got the note “fully” together and discovered the pain, suffering, trauma, and abuse Keeks was living with. She had no choice but to be put into a mental hospital.


Through all the trauma and abuse, Keeks still found ways to keep herself occupied and busy with her hobbies. She enjoyed reading books and writing stories. She realized her writing skills when she just four by writing short stories of the home life she wished she had. Keeks also found serenity in writing poems to get her emotions out and express herself what she had experienced throughout her young life. For some people, writing comes easier as the expression of their inner selves, and Keeks is one of them.


“My aunt hated that I wrote so much that she would take my journals and expose things to people,” Keeks said about her aunt. “A lot of the time my writings would get me hurt, so I had to write in secret and never share my writings.”


It is called Sweet 16 for a reason, and that is just what it was for Keeks when she was 16 when she was put back into foster care. For the past 11-12 years of her life, she had been living through the horrors of abuse from family, dealing with decisions on whether to live or go on and even had to live on the streets when her aunt kicked her out and told her to never come back. Because of her emotional distress, Keeks almost got expelled from school and was put into foster care, which saved her life.


Before we go into what Keeks did next, let us acknowledge the woman who helped shaped that lost 16-year-old girl – Ms. Lizzetta, Keeks foster mom’s best friend.


“We shared an unspoken understanding between us since the day we met.” Keeks reminisces about the time she spent with Lizzetta. Being angry at the world for everything she had received so far in her young life, Lizzetta was there to offer her shoulder to cry on. She was the only one to sit down and talk with Keeks. “She was the first person I opened up to about the sexual abuse I experienced for years,” Keeks said. “She and I walked a similar path, so she knew how to help me, letting me be vulnerable enough to talk but conscious enough to not force me to talk if I broke down.”


Though Keeks never really lived with Lizzetta, though she did want to adopt Keeks. However, because she was still living in foster care with her aunt holding custody the state was only concerned with reuniting Keeks with her “family”, as it was in the state’s best interest for families to be together.


One week later Keeks was sent to a foster home in Cleveland, Ohio. Immediately, Keeks knew this was not going to be an ideal situation for her. Not long into her stay in Cleveland Keeks was raped by her childhood rapist, who just so happened to live on the same street. To make matters worse, Keeks would be sexually assaulted again by another person and would now be sent to another foster home. With no help from caseworkers or her foster parents, Keeks had to find a way to succeed on her own after being separated from Lizzetta.


She found a way.


After graduating high school in Ohio, Keeks decided to attend Youngstown State University where she wanted to major in psychology. A large reason Keeks decided to stay local was due in part to her grandfather who was very sick, and she knew no one would give their time of day to help him. But Keeks decided to stay and help. That is who she is. Unfortunately, after three weeks into college, her grandfather passed away.


This led Keeks down a rough road for a bit while she self-medicated with drugs and alcohol, but she found a way to dig herself out of her hole, and she found a way to thrive. She finally found ways to cope with her childhood traumas.


One day, Keeks came up with the idea to help people who have been in her shoes. She came up with the idea of a project called “Kickin It Wit Keeks”. She started the project because when she would go back to foster homes, detention centers, old classrooms, etc. she realized if she were to talk to these kids who were dealing with similar traumatized pain, maybe it would help them; and her. One random day one of her kids was visiting and told her ‘you know it’s always fun kicking it with you. That was the moment “Kickin It Wit Keeks” began.


“I would share my story of where I started and where I’m currently standing”. Keeks said.


One day at school, Keeks decided to skip class to attend an MC Lyte event on campus. Keeks was a huge fan, so she couldn’t miss it. “It was one of the best decisions I could have ever made for myself,” Keeks said. “She told a little bit of her life story and the barriers she had to overcome to get to be the woman she is”. Keeks was even lucky enough to meet her idol and snap a few photos with MC Lyte in the process.


Keeks found the courage to leave Cleveland for Detroit because she missed Lizzetta, and Keeks being Keeks will do just about anything for her little sister and her family.


While living in Detroit, Keeks started doing some charity work during the holiday season. Her cause targeted to help the homeless in Detroit. One December she decided to take up fundraisers for the Detroit Rescue Mission, who planned one giving them $1.95 for one meal; All Keek’s donations were quadrupled. Keeks set her goal to raise $585, after the effect of quadrupling that $585 became $2,340. Enough for 1,200 meals.


Today, you can find Keeks establishing her transitional housing center for young children that will provide them with the necessities and resources needed to have a fair chance growing up and not to have to worry about surviving. Keeks would like to continue growing with WeTalkRadio Network and working with everyone else on the team.


“I am learning so much here from Ms. Kia and everyone else on the team who have other outward effects on different aspects of my life,” Keeks said of her time working with WeTalkRadio Network. “This has given me the tools I didn’t know how to come up with on my own for my other endeavors, it is a great experience!”


10 years from now Keeks sees herself as a well-established professional with many entities thriving to provide for children and young adults. Also, Keeks will be making “Kickin It Wit Keeks” a nonprofit foundation.


We all have scars inside and out, we all have freckles from emotional wounds and broken hearts, but Keeks is the one who has adorned herself with tattoos on her scars as she sees the beauty of the character as the grace point between what hurts and what heals, between the shadow of tragedy and the light of joy.