Anissa Jordan was born in Oakland, California, in 1968, the last of eight children. For years, her mother’s live-in boyfriend beat and molested her and her half sister Althenia. The girls didn’t tell their mother. “It was our secret,” Jordan told me. When Jordan was in fourth grade, Althenia was murdered. The case was never solved.
Jordan was held back in school, started acting out, and was sent to juvenile hall. By 10th grade, she was spending most of her time “partying and having fun and smoking weed and drinking beer.” More stints in juvenile hall followed, then a string of arrests and convictions as an adult, nearly all of them theft-related. She had her first child, Amanda, at 21, followed by two more daughters and a son.
In 2005, Jordan was 36. She was on felony probation, unemployed, and addicted to drugs and alcohol. She had moved in with