“I grew up in a small town near Veracruz in which the style of life for a woman does not amount to anything. My father was an abusive man whose habits often left us with nothing to eat. I knew at a young age there was no future here, only suffering.”
At 16, Julieta moved to America to live with relatives in hopes of starting a new life. Despite her best intentions, she found herself a year later in an abusive relationship, without a support network, and expecting a child.
Soon after her son’s birth, Julieta was coerced into sending her child to live with relatives in Mexico so she could work to support herself. As a mother, she felt helpless and deeply hurt.
For three years Julieta saved money to bring her son back. Shortly after she reunited with him, her daughter was born. Unfortunately, Julieta and her children were unable to escape the domestic violence at home. Until…
“One day, I dropped my son off at school with bruises on my face and arms. When I returned in the afternoon to pick him up, a social worker approached me. She promised me she would help me find refuge for me and my children. Four days later, she came to my house and took me and my children to a home for abused women.”
Julieta and her children found refuge for 2 years through the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, where they received domestic violence counseling, emergency shelter and transitional housing. This marked the beginning of what would become the family’s path to recovery.
Four years ago, the Acosta’s journey lead them to Connections:
“When Julieta first came through our doors, she was incredibly shy and embarrassed, and still very affected by the domestic violence she had experienced over the course of her life, as were the children. As a result, she suffered from severe anxiety and depression.” –Connections Case Manager
Connections’ case managers connected the Acosta family to resources that allowed them to continue domestic violence counseling, and helped Julieta find support groups with others who had had similar experiences. Case managers also helped Julieta set goals to find a job, learn English, and enroll in parenting classes.
While Juletia strived to accomplish these goals, Connections helped Julieta receive benefits, such as Medicare and a Link Card, to help support her family.
Although Julieta’s employment opportunities were very limited due to her level of education and non-citizen status, she was still able to find job as a nanny.
The children, now 8 and 12, are described by Connections’ case managers as, “total sweethearts” and “great students.” Best of all, they no longer suffer from the experiences of their early life—they are just like any other kids. This is a significant step in stopping the cycles of homelessness that often starts with an individual’s earliest life experiences.
One of the most difficult obstacles in Julieta’s story is how affected she was by having a young child unjustly taken from her. This was a devastating blow to her identity as a mother—she felt she had failed and was powerless to change. She continues to move away from this belief.
While the Acosta children were both born in the United States, Julieta still awaits to be granted citizenship, a process that often takes years. She and her case managers see this as one of the last steps she must take to become self-sufficient, as it will significantly expand her employment opportunities.
In addition to attaining citizenship and working to improve her health, Julieta’s most important goal is to “maintain a home where my family will always be united.”
The Acosta’s story is a good reminder of the importance of family, and of the value of reaching out when help is needed. Connections was created to help those in need, and we celebrate the supporters that share our belief that we must always keep our community open, so to bring inside those who need a place to go.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call the 24-hour crisis line at YWCA Evanston/North Shore at 877-718-1868. If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, or is at risk of becoming homeless, please contact our Information and Referral Desk at 847-475-7070, x134.