Karenna”s story 

In her words


My name is Karenna.  I am the second child of five children my mother had within her seven marriages.  When I was a child whenever there was a problem we moved.  I went to several schools and had a lot of difficulty understanding much of anything.  During this time in my life two men that I trusted, my step dad and my step grandfather sexually abused me.  As I grew older it stopped but it shaped how I thought and choices I would make later.

As a teen I was a good student.  I had a steady boyfriend.  As my high school year got closer to ending I miscarried a pregnancy.  I broke up with my boyfriend trying to punish myself.   I started seeing a guy that was totally wrong for me.  I was not ready to have high school end.  The idea of college scared me.  I started hanging out with my friends more, and I got pregnant.  I moved in with the father and got kicked out of school.  I was 18 and having the first of five babies.

Three months after Alexander, my first baby was born I married the dad.  Despite being on the pill I got pregnant again.  Naomi was born 5 days after I turned 20.  Things were OK.  I went back t school and stayed at home being a mom.  During this time I got pregnant for baby number 3.  I turned 21 and the Isobelle was born.  She was such a different baby.  She didn’t like to be held or do any “normal” baby things.  As she grew she banged her head on the floor, she lined toys up.  she didn’t talk.  I was pregnant for baby number 4, Liam.  Things were hard.  My marriage was suffering.  My husband was always mad, it was all I could do to keep the kids quiet, and his mom, who was living with us, happy.  Will had a hard time dealing with 3 babies, a job, a pregnant wife and his mom.  Liam was born just after I turned 22 and just after 9/11.  When Bella was 18 months old she was diagnosed autistic.  Not quiet a year after Liam’s birth my fifth and final baby was born.  We had moved into my step father’s house.  The day after Logan was born, my fifth wedding anniversary, I had a tubal ligation surgery, I bled out.  The next couple of months are hazy, but when the hospital sent me home they told me to rest.  I listened, for months and even a few years I rested. 

My house suffered.  I was living for the first time with just my family, my house was trashed, as was my marriage.  Children’s services came, several times.  I cleaned up and tried to keep it clean.  I had four kids in diapers and a kindergardner, and a husband who no longer worked.  He sat on the computer and I kept myself busy with the kids.  Children’s Services came again they told us we had to move; so we did.  Things were ok for awhile; then my world crashed.  My husband molested my daughter.  I was devastated.  I remember thinking that he was only hurting me.  Then when I found out he hurt her I was devastated.  He went to prison for 22 months and I divorced him.  I tried to figure out a new life for my kids and I, but it was so hard. 

I had never had a job outside of the home, and the places that I put applications told me that I needed a work history.  With this new life included an old friend.  My high school sweetheart, Leon.  He moved in and tried to help but he was paying 1/2 his income in child support, and I was still not working; nor did I receive child support.  We struggled to keep our house, but Leon lost his job.  On top of financial worries my ex-husband was released from prison and he knew where we lived.  My kids and I were terrified.  My aunt and cousin offered me a trailer on their property.  We went to see it and decided to move. 

What we didn’t think about was that the electric wasn’t hooked up, we assumed it was.  So when we moved our place wasn’t ready.  So we stayed with my cousin in her trailer.  It was cramped with thier family and ours, and it was disgustingly dirty.  We had been there for 2 or 3 weeks when my cousins daughter got a severe burn on her arm.  My youngest recieved a small burn playing with the fire box as well.  I didn’t see a need to take Logan to a doctor for such a small burn; but I offered to help take Beth in to be seen.  My cousin didn’t want to take her in.  Long story short the school called Children’s Services and the kids were taken. 

So I am at Woman’s Co-op as part of my service plan.  I’m fighting to get my kids back and the Co-op is fighting with me.  Before Co-op I was homeless, and without local friends.  I felt lost, alone and dead inside.  I talked to Jessie and Jamie and I started tutoring in the GED class.  I started feeling happier and less lonely.  I can’t imagine not having my Co-op friends.  Teresa, Val and Sara have fought side by side with me to get my kids back.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m confident it will.   I have a home, friends and a job.  I’m not alone.  My heart is full of gratitude and I am so glad to have this chance. 

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