Author: Lauri Burns
Author: Lauri Burns
Lauri Burns' memoir Punished for Purpose: From Out of the Darkness Came a Powerful Healing Light is an extremely moving description of someone who has lived events that fortunately most of us will never experience. It is a poignant and fierce tale of a young teenager, who was discarded and demonized, yet was able to survive and make something of herself, eventually helping others.
The majority of us presume that parents are usually present to help and encourage their children. We take for granted that they care for them, show them how to behave, and most of all, provide encouragement in whatever they do. In other words, most adults basically treat children well. Some children, however, are not as lucky as others, as was the case of Lauri, who was physically and psychologically abused by her father. A father, along with a conspiring sister, had her institutionalized for several months in an institution for the criminally insane at the age of fourteen-all because they wanted to get rid and hide the abuse she endured at the hands of her monstrous father.
Piece by piece, as Lauri continues her story, we learn how she becomes one of the millions of homeless American children, who run away from home in their early teens. And although there is much torment and pain in reading this book, nonetheless it is a powerful story that must be told, as today it is critically pertinent. In fact, The National Runaway Switchboard informs us that there are one in seven kids between the ages of ten and eighteen, who will run away at some point- a figure that is alarmingly far too many. No doubt, as was the case with Lauri, many of these children had a diversity of problems to deal with before they decided to take the plunge and run away. And we can well appreciate that in certain instances, running away may seem to be their only option, particularly when they are abused. You probably are asking why can't they inform a trusted adult of their abuse? Unfortunately, this can be extremely difficult, as the abuser may have terrorized the child into staying silent.
As we read Lauri's precise account of how a naive vulnerable teenager tries to survive the savagery of the streets, we learn how the troubles of runaways are sadly supplanted by other issues as drug addiction, alcoholism, rape, emotional problems, disassociation, suicidal behavior, hopelessness, unwanted pregnancy, prostitution, lack of bonding, mistrust, and a host of others. For years Lauri's life was a revolving door, moving from one group home to another, running away, sleeping where ever she could crash, trying to figure out how to get money for her next drug fix, getting arrested. In fact, she reached a point where group homes refused her entry.
This 483-page book is loaded with some tragic stories that are candidly narrated, and for some readers, may prove to be too disturbing. Nonetheless, its final chapters are wonderful, as it describes how Lauri was able to turn her life around, after meeting up with her “angels.” These were kind souls who showed her the right path to pursue, and today Lauri is giving back, as founder of The Teen Project, which she created in answer to her strong feelings that no matter how many teens she has personally fostered, it has never been enough. She dreams that no teenager should ever be without a safe home or family. Lauri has also joined the Orange County Foster Care advisory board and she has won awards for volunteering with teen inmates, recovery counseling and inspirational speaking for at-risk-youth. Seventy-five percent of the proceeds from the sale of Punished for Purpose: From Out of the Darkness Came a Powerful Healing Light will go to help emancipated foster youths around the USA.