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Julia - Overcoming Homelessness

This interviewee wanted to remain anonymous, so the name "Julia" is used as a replacement for her privacy :)

Julia is a woman in her 60s who overcame homelessness in 2021. She grew up with her brothers & was born to an alcoholic/drug-addicted mother who became sober when Julia was 8. Her mother came from an abusive household & was verbally abusive to Julia and her brothers throughout their childhoods. Julia shared: "I can't even remember her giving me a compliment. Matter of fact, when I graduated high school as an honors student, she told me that she was embarrassed because of all of the awards that I had gotten." Although Julia had never met her biological father, her mother married her stepfather when she was in junior high. He ended up being an alcoholic & her mother shot him the day that they moved into a new house due to an argument. With all of this being said, Julia wanted to make it clear that her mother worked extremely hard her entire life & that she always provided her children with what they needed. She also mentioned that her mother taught Julia and her siblings to be independent and always had them participate in extracurricular activities. However, Julia's mother had "limited emotional availability" with Julia throughout her childhood.

Julia attended Catholic school for 12 years, & when she was 13, she dated a boy who raped and abused her. She never told anyone because she was too scared of him, however, they did eventually break up. This was just the start of Julia's difficult relationships.

After graduating high school, Julia went on to major in theatre arts & minor in biology. She also dated a wonderful man from the age of 18 until she was 25. They moved in together when she was 23, however, she quickly left him because her "spiritual and emotional unwellness" caused her to feel unfulfilled in the relationship. Julia then started dating a man who turned out to be her pimp. However, she shared that she did not notice what he was doing at first, as she could not imagine that he would do that to her. Later on, Julia was able to notice these patterns. She shared: "He threatened to find me and kill me if I left, and harm my family. His violation of parole caused him to be arrested & that's what freed me." After Julia was able to leave him, she moved into her own place.

Julia had a psychotic break at 28, & was forced to live with one of her friends. While that friend was away, Julia overdosed & her friend kicked her out after finding out that she had attempted suicide. She then had to live in her car for 2 weeks until her brother told their mother about her "strange behavior." Julia's mother then told her that she needed to go to the hospital or else she would sever their relationship. Julia was hospitalized for 21 days and lived with her mother for around 7 months in recovery.

Unfortunately, Julia and her mother got into an altercation, causing Julia's mother to kick her out at 29. She was forced to rent rooms from two different people and it was at this time that she got pregnant with her son. Julia was dating another man when she found out that she was pregnant, and it was only when her son was 8 years old that the paternity tests showed who the father was. Although she now knew who his father was, he was a victim of random violence in the community and was shot by a group of men at a telephone pole, causing his son to have a very limited relationship with his biological father.

When Julia was 43, she married her current husband. She shared that she was becoming obese & that, at the time, she was very insecure. She believed that no one would love her due to the changes in her body, so even though she knew she did not necessarily want to be with him, she felt that it had to be done. Julia also mentioned that she was insecure about her mental capabilities due to her previous psychotic break, however, she was still able to work as a teacher and run a small business. Julia shared that her husband was verbally, mentally, & emotionally abusive, but that "because of [her] childhood, [she] couldn't recognize abuse in people." In 2009, Julia left her husband for a year because he had an affair with another woman & she became extremely angry. However, she got back with him in 2010 & they were together for a few more years. In 2017, Julia left her husband for a few weeks because of his abuse. She was homeless but rented a room from a friend. Unfortunately, Julia ran out of money & had to go back to him. Finally, on February 7th, 2019, her husband locked her out of the house & she officially left him. She lived in her car & at different friends' houses until February 19th when WISEPlace offered her a space in their program. Julia stayed in the program until May 21st, 2021, when she moved into her current senior living home!

Julia is now planning to start her own nonprofit to help people on their mental health journeys, as well as to educate individuals about the characteristics of abusive behavior, how to foster self-love, and how to align community members with community resources. She is also currently in the process of divorcing her husband. Julia shared that she is an "example that anyone can achieve anything they want, despite whatever adversities they have gone through." Julia's advice for anyone in the same situation that she was in is that "it is never too late to start, it is never too late to continue, & it is never too late to pursue a dream or to set a goal." She also shared that another great resource that helped her was Crime Survivors.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world Julia! You are such an inspiration & a mentor for any other women experiencing homelessness.

If you would like to learn more about WISEPlace, click here.

Donate to Project WHY today so that we can continue to interview these amazing people! Project WHY is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit corporation registered with the State of California & the United States government. 100% of your tax-deductible donation goes to supporting individuals experiencing homelessness! :)

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leslie donato
leslie donato
Mar 24, 2023

I love your post and stories. You're such an inspiration. You're amazing, salute to you.


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Ed Zappia
Ed Zappia
Nov 06, 2022

This is another absolutely unbelievable and amazing story of tragedy and recovery. Another amazing story ProjectWHY!


Nov 02, 2022

I can’t believe that after all the trouble she had been through in her life, she was able to rise above it all and follow the path of starting a non profit!! It is amazing what people can do after such sever circumstances.

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