September 2013 This speech was given by me in front of a couple hundred people at a legislative breakfast that included a panel of legislators to help secure further program funding. I worked with the famous homeless coalition’s community organizer for weeks, and in the end this was my story… (AND I ain’t stickin’ to it??!!)
Some detail in the speech has been changed and names have been shortened or changed for the sake of my writing the Shocking TRUTH in the next few weeks, because it ain’t pretty….
I don’t need to be bitter about the truth because I don’t have to stay silent! Remember on the outside I am the golden child of the homeless people out here that spoke on behalf of these programs! I am the golden child they interviewed on TV, and they even bought me very expensive stuff, dressed me up and swept off to a Gala to be introduced to millionaires in hopes they would open their pocketbooks!
But for now let’s start out with that candy coated version and give you a little background on myself before I walk you down a cold sick greedy disgusting road that is going to open your eyes as to what really happens in those homeless shelters that you volunteer for, donate too, drive past or pay tax dollars for.
September 2013. Eight Months Homeless
Good morning, everyone.
Domestic abuse can devastate a good life into nothing in the matter of months. Try to imagine your life as you know it gone. Your job and income gone. The safety of your home gone. All of your savings spent on hiding, fighting for your life and the life of your unborn baby.
My story starts in Wisconsin where I was born and raised.
I only dated my abuser 2 or 3 months. He only had the opportunity to *physically* -hurt me- once or twice before I found out I was pregnant. I tried to break off the unhealthy relationship, and went into hiding. I didn’t realize that it would set him off to further attack me.
When my abuser could no longer find me he began systematically diminishing my already fragile support system. He involved my ex-husband, friends and family by telling them I was pregnant. I became so wary of people I had trusted most of my life that I forced myself to be isolated.
While I was hiding, I was put on strict bed-rest with my health declining fast. I was told my life was at risk.
The stress of the abuse was so bad that I was rushed into the hospital for the rest of my pregnancy.
While I was hospitalized I lost everything: My business, My home, and everything inside my home including Pictures and the Very Papers that gave me my identity: Birth Certificates Social Security Cards.
I tried to reach out to nurses and social workers in the hospital about my situation but no one could help me.
On June 28, 2012 I was gave birth to my 3lb premature healthy baby boy.
Two short weeks after having my baby, we were released. (PAUSE) Homeless with only what I had in my car.
As I was driving away it occurred to me that one of my childhood friends had gotten back into contact with me a year back and told me she had been homeless for an entire year. Her and her children had lived in a shelter just across the state lines in Illinois.
So that afternoon I drove to a sister city where she worked so I could ask her where I needed to go.
She immediately opened her doors to let us stay on her couch in Illinois so I could at least recover.
By December I had no choice but to cancel my food snaps and medical benefits in Wisconsin because I no longer lived there. I couldn’t afford to keep my car, and I didn’t know where I was!
Things got so tense with my friend and I it seemed dangerously unhealthy for us to continue staying there.
I used the neighbors phone to call the local Shelter after I saw it under Emergency Shelters in a resource guide. I was given careful instructions on exactly what to do and where to go.
On January 7, 2013 I bundled up my baby, put everything I owned into three small bags, and got on the bus to find the local shelter located in the pit of society on the outskirts of Chicago.
I want everyone to understand that even though my journey started at the Shelter, it was the collaboration of the homeless shelters and programs in Illinois that helped me regain my identity and my life.
Ms. B* and Mr. R* at the Family Shelter, gave me and my son hot food, a bed, a crib, and toys to turned a makeshift room into seemed like paradise.
The staff at the Shelter also provided transportation and referrals for us to obtain food stamps, vital records and identification, and ongoing parenting support. They also paid for my prescriptions for five months and referred me to my mental health therapist W*P* who has been my biggest support and reason I came through this.
Ms. M and her staff at my next shelter I was transferred too the S* House gave me and the other women the tools to boost our confidence and build independence.
Ms.* and Ms.* from the St House, the next shelter made sure we were taking care of business and finding a job. My case manager there must have also seen something in me because she never had me sitting around.
M*G* my from legal aid referred me to the A DV transitional program, and helped me obtain an order of protection against the man I was hiding from.
Once I made it to A DV, I realized that this is where I need to be to rebuild what was lost from the physical and emotional violence I endured. This is where I have the room and space to be the mother I need to be for my three children. The supportive housing and programming like family counseling and child support groups that is offered on-site at A DV is designed and geared for adults and children that have specifically been through the very dark moments of abuse.
Now imagine had all those services not been available to help my tiny baby and I. The way things were going my tiny son and I would have been hungry and looking for an abandoned building by February. Instead I am able to stand here and tell you that because of how these agencies worked together we are safe, healthy, my son is thriving and enjoys playing and learning to walk in an apartment we can call home. Now I am building a stronger foundation for our future without fear of being put out into the streets and best of all because of the support my son is looking forward to meeting his brother and sister soon and I get to look forward to holding my children again.