For People Raised in Chaos, Risk-Taking (and Law Breaking) is Hardwired

The Thresh

Crime SceneBy Matthew Hutson


Robin Marvel was never supposed to succeed. By the time she was a teenager she’d watched her mother be violently beaten by her father and a number of boyfriends, been sexually assaulted herself, moved haphazardly around the country, become an alcoholic, and gotten pregnant by her boyfriend.

“There was never any stability at all,” Marvel says of her life with her mother. “I was always homeless, we were always being evicted or moving, the lights would be off for weeks. We would get kicked out of domestic violence shelters because she would break the rules.”

Sometimes Marvel would come home to find cocaine and mounds of marijuana on the table. “My mom was extremely unstable. She would just wake us up in the middle of the night and say ‘We’re moving to Michigan.’ Then the same thing would happen in Michigan—we’d just move back. I missed…

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