Stepsisters: Laesha and Redina share anger at their fathers.
Stepsisters: Laesha and Redina share anger at their fathers.
Deron Neblett

Laesha Powell and Redina Castillo

Although Laesha's father was absent for most of her childhood, doing time for drug offenses, she didn't begin hating him until her 13th birthday. To celebrate the start of her teenage years, she had her hair and nails done for the first time. Everyone wished her a happy birthday -- except her father, who had come home by then and sat outside all day, smoking and drinking.

He soon left to romance Redina's mother. Redina's biological father, Pablo, left when she was two, and whenever her mother scolds her, she says, "You're just like Pablo!" It bothers Redina to wonder about her father and if he ever thinks of her.

"Why should I have to wonder about my father?" she says.

When Redina turned 13, she started smoking and having sex. She failed the eighth grade twice. She and Laesha attended the same middle school but ignored each other.

Then Laesha's father left Redina's mother, and for a while the two mothers and their children moved in together. Laesha and Redina, now 15, found they shared more than a father: They both felt angry and depressed. After Redina enrolled in No More Victims, she physically hauled her stepsister to the classroom.

Redina says having a place to vent her problems comforts her. She would burst, she says, if she didn't release her anger. The class helps Laesha understand her father.

"I used to say I didn't give a F-U-C-K about my father. I said that recently," she says. "After a while, I feel differently. I saw his side of the story."

Laesha's father, now in a transitional facility, has since returned to her mother.


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