For Crying out Loud: Women's Poverty in the United States

By Diane Dujon; Ann Withorn | Go to book overview

IF WE COULD, WE WOULD BE
SOMEPLACE ELSE

Laura Walker

I AM A SINGLE MOTHER WITH A 13-YEAR-OLD AND A 14-YEARold. I was married for about four years. We had an income of thiry to forty thousand dollars a year. I worked part-time at nights; he worked full-time during the day. We had our two children 15 months apart. When the youngest was six months old and the oldest was 20 months old and after a very abusive marriage, including attempted murder when my former husband tried to poison me, I finally had restraining orders taken out against him. I found out that restraining orders are only good if the cops find him in my presence -- if he isn't, too bad!

My husband left and not only cleaned out the bank account, but forged my signature on our last income tax return as well. There was obviously nothing I could do about either, since everything was in both our names. He also took the car and left me with the two children. I didn't even have a stroller that worked property, and I was living in a three-room. apartment. We had planned to buy a house in order to move, but I was left there alone with my children and had to experience the welfare system and found it to be very dehumanizing.

I was called a "good welfare recipient." To this day, I still can't figure out what that means, but I guess it was because I was totally intimidated and always expressed my gratitude for the too little the welfare worker did for us. Shortly after going on welfare, the phone was shut off and sometimes the lights were shut off as well.

I called DSS asking them for counseling help; and since my phone was shut off, they just showed up at the door. The DSS worker said she didn't have to come in because I wasn't under any suspicion. I told her she could come in if she didn't mind the breakfast mess. She came in and found the kids in the bathtub, where they kind of got

-23-

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