An Abuse Survivor Finds Family In A Special Teacher

Rogelio Martinez was being abused when he started taking Lisa Moya King's dance class. Soon, Rogelio ran away, and Lisa took him in when he had nowhere to go. "You showed me that I'm not alone," Rogelio says. "That I actually have somebody."

Friday is the National Day of Listening, a chance to sit down with a loved one, turn on an audio recorder and ask that person about his or her life. You can find tips on how to record your conversation at nationaldayoflistening.org.

When Rogelio Martinez enrolled in Lisa Moya King's dance class in high school, his father had been deported. Rogelio was bouncing around among family members — and he was being abused.

Lisa found out what was going on when one day Rogelio couldn't move in dance class. "I remember I asked, 'Well, why can't you dance?' "

That's when Rogelio showed her his bruises.

"You revealed to me that there was some trouble at home," Lisa says on a visit to StoryCorps in Dallas with Rogelio.

She reported the abuse, but just days later Rogelio called Lisa to tell her he was running away.

"My husband ... had run away when he was your age exactly, and he was taken in by his choir teacher," Lisa says.

"I remember you said, you know, 'I don't care about my job,' " Rogelio recalls. "You just wanted to help me."

"So you stayed with me a couple of times when you just didn't have a place to go, or we needed to go pick you up," Lisa says.

"And I remember when you spent Thanksgiving with my family," she continues. "I taught you how to make a pumpkin pie. That was a really special Thanksgiving, because I had my immediate family — my husband, my children, my grandmother — and you were there. I had everybody there that I truly loved."

"Well, I, for a long time in my life, didn't have that experience to even call somebody a mom. But just to see you — the way you took care of me — that's how a mom should act," Rogelio tells Lisa. "I just feel like there's no way for me to thank you for everything. You showed me that I'm not alone — that I actually have somebody."

"What you don't realize is that you helped me, too," Lisa replies. "You have taught me a lot about being a teacher, but you've also taught me a lot about being a parent. Just the other day someone said, 'Is that your son?' And I said, 'Yes.' You always have a family here. You always will."

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher.

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