Dismazed & Driven Excerpts

 

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 E X C E R P T S

julianna and gw largeExcerpt from
Dismazed and Driven -
My Look at Family Homelessness in America
 

Chapter 10 - Stranger Danger

When she was young, Julianna pursued her life’s dream. She joined the U.S. Army. There she met the man of her dreams, also in the Army. That man would, in time, become her nightmare. Shortly after they married Julianna got pregnant. She retired from the military to care for their family. Each time her husband returned from a tour of duty she became pregnant. As their relationship deteriorated, this gregarious mother felt trapped and looked for a way out. 

As much as she loved raising her family, Julianna wanted to stop having children. Her husband made it very clear that getting her tubes tied was not an option. He raped her at will. She had no choice but to submit to his violence-fueled demands. She knew that involving the military police in their marital disputes would only come back on her and the kids. Julianna displayed faux patterns of familial bliss. Her life seesawed between excruciating eruptions of her husband’s anger and brutality when he was home, and deceptive lulls as he was deployed. She withered as she endured his sexual demands which subsequently resulted in pregnancy until she had four children. Then something snapped.

Her job was her sanctuary. She worked as a teacher’s aide in the local grade school. With her bubbly personality and ability to bond with even the hardest-to-love child, she was treasured by her students and colleagues. Few knew of Julianna’s alternate reality. One social worker, the district’s homeless liaison, sensed something going on. Over time that liaison developed a trusting relationship with the beleaguered mother. 

As they spoke of her scarce options, Julianna laid out her two-pronged bottom line: “I don’t want my kids to change schools, and I won’t go back to him.” She knew nothing of the federal McKinney-Vento Act that protected the educational rights of homeless students. The law allows parents to decide which school options are in the best interest of the children. The liaison assured Julianna that her kids could stay in their schools, with help to make it feasible. With that in place, Julianna made her move just as her husband threatened to harm her eldest son. She had taken her husband’s beatings, but no way in hell was she going to let him hit any of the children. She ushered the kids out of the house and down the street to a neighbor’s house. 

 
 
 
 
 

 

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