My story began as I was born to an unwed African American teen mother. She had my brother when she was 14 and had me at the age of 16. I vaguely remember the house that I was born in down south. Blacks were not allowed to be born in the hospital at that time so we made use of midwives. My grandfather shot my dad twice in the back with a 22 caliber handgun. He was chasing him away from our house because he told him to stay away from my mother. Shortly thereafter we were kicked out of the house by my grandfather. We jumped around from house to house for a while before finally moving in with this older man. He worked hard as a construction worker but he was very mean and abusive to my mother. He also ran a bootlegging house and gambling spot where the pimps, prostitutes, and hustlers gathered. Violence was a prominent part of my formative years and being around drug dealers taught me how to make fast money and led me to prison in my adult years.
While incarcerated in state prison, I took an open honest assessment of my life in an effort to understand my decision-making process. I realized that I have always been intelligent but didn’t take full advantage of my gifts because I had no support system so I returned to what I know. I decided to make a change and not be bound by my past experiences. I formulated a plan for when I would be released which included accountability, education, and creating my own support system. This was key because I had a plan and was no longer wandering around aimlessly. I had no language to express the feelings that seemed to be stuck in my psyche. I was focused on not being another statistic of recidivism. I complied with all of my parole stipulations, entered into community college, and was very particular about the people, places, and things that I allowed into my life. I didn’t have any programs or mentors to assist me on my journey so I had to learn by trial and error. As I continued on my new path, I began to meet people who appreciated my efforts and taught me important principles of education. It was while obtaining my bachelor’s of science degree in psychology that I learned about Childhood Adverse Experiences. A light came on because the information resonated with my spirit and I felt that a giant weight had been lifted off of me because I realized that I wasn’t crazy.
I now have 3 psychology degrees and I am currently working on my doctorate of education degree at Penn State University. I use my experiences and my education to empower the community and I work diligently to introduce others to trauma informed awareness. I’m thankful to everyone who work so hard to help make this a trauma informed community.
Boris Hines MA
Director of Community Engagement heartshine
[Editor's note: Boris Hines is the Community Manager of the new ACEs Connection Community Dauphin County Trauma-Informed Collaborative in Pennsylvania, USA]