February 4, 2014

Our Neighbors: Stronger today than yesterday

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — To call London resident Elizabeth D. Jarvis, 26, merely a survivor wouldn’t be as much of a misnomer as it is an understatement.

For the former half of her life, Jarvis underwent an ordeal many know of by name alone. She endured trauma people read about in books or delve into on television, but rarely encounter face to face.

In the simplest of terms, Jarvis survived foster care – along with all the baggage associated with it – and came out a balanced, ambitious, creative, even chipper adult.

Originally from Dinuba, Cal., Jarvis has led a roaming life all over the country. Her stops have included North Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Mississippi, and even Nevada.

Jarvis attributes this consistent change to her mother, whose own personal problems with drugs and money led her into a life of prostitution. Jarvis’s father proved to be on equal, if not worse terms.

Her home life became nothing more than a constant source of abuse. One account included leaving her in the care of a stranger and leaving the state, which legally counts as abandonment. After her mother settled in Clay County, W. Va., Jarvis decided enough was enough.

“I put myself into foster care when I was 13,” Jarvis said. “I knew my home situation wasn’t good. I told my English teacher what was going on and I was put into foster care that same day.”

As a ward of the state, Jarvis first had to live in a group home specializing in self-harm as well as drug and alcohol abuse.

“I had never drank – I was 13. I had never done drugs. I had never harmed myself,” Jarvis said. “But they didn’t have anywhere for me, so I was put into an at-risk youth center, which taught me things I never should have known. You had to grow up quick.”

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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