“April”: Courage to Start Again
“April” grew up in New Ulm, MN. She got pregnant her senior year of high school and gave birth to her first child months after graduation. She married the father of her child. A few years later, they divorced. “April” eventually remarried. She and her new husband moved out of New Ulm to start their life together.
“April” shared that the first few years of her marriage were perfect; her husband was charming and everything that she wanted in a man. “April” and her husband started going to church and reading the bible. Her husband began twisting the teachings. He claimed that women needed to obey their husbands and that men were in charge.
Eventually, “April’s” husband forbade her to have contact with her family and her son’s birth father. Naturally, they were not happy with the decision. They successfully petitioned the court for visitation rights with “April’s” son. Every time “April’s” son went for a visit, “April’s” husband would question him about where they went and what they did, and would take away what was brought back from the visit. “April’s” husband made her son cut relations with his biological father and grandparents. As time went on, things got worse. “April’s” husband made her quit her job. He made her cut relations with everyone she knew. She was not allowed to go anywhere alone. Her husband made her wear long dresses that went down to her ankles and made her cover her hair.
“April” went on to have five children with her husband, all of whom she birthed at home. All of her kids, including her son from her first marriage, were homeschooled. Her husband believed that girls should not be educated. The family was not allowed to watch television or listen to the radio. “April” hid an antenna in the house, and when her husband was not home, she and her kids would watch tv or listen to the radio, though they often lived without running water or electricity. When she wanted to go to the laundromat, her husband insisted on driving her, and if he would not drive her, she would wait until it rained and would wash the laundry in the rain.
“April’s” husband lead bible study two times a day. Sometimes he was so drunk while leading bible study that he would fall off his chair. He would binge drink for days without eating and then would sleep for days. “April” became hopeless and began to wish she were dead, but then she would think of her kids and she knew she could not leave them with her husband. After living like this for 24 years, “April” decided that she had to leave. When she told her husband, he gathered up the children and told them what “April” was doing was sinful, and she would go to hell for breaking up the family.
“April” decided that she had finally had enough. She had a cellphone and began looking up her parent’s names online so that she could find their phone numbers. After each unsuccessful attempt to reach her parents, “April” would delete her search history just in case her husband looked through her phone. As she was about to give up, her son told her there was one more number they had not tried. “April” called the number and the call went to voicemail. “April” did not recognize the person on the voicemail. She decided to leave a distinct email address hoping the person would recognize her and send an email. It turned out that it was her mom’s voice on the greeting, but her mom accidentally deleted the message. “April’s” mother called “April’s” brother and told him about the message. “April’s” brother tried different emails and one of them eventually connected with her! They then began to email back and forth.
“April” got in touch with a social worker and the sheriff’s office. They set a date and time when they were going to pick up her and her 5 youngest children and their 2 dogs. Luckily, “April’s” husband was not home at the time of the pick up. They were taken to a safe location where “April’s” parents picked them up the following day. After 3 months, with the help of support services, “April” was able to move out of her parent’s house.
“April” heard about Life-Work Planning Center from a woman in the community. When “April” came to LWPC, she set goals and was eager to accomplish them with support. LWPC helped “April” get connected with other resources. “April” says she is happy to have LWPC on her side while she is starting over. “April” has received support dollars for interview attire, and has participated in workshops and one-on-one counseling. “April” is now working part-time at a grocery store. She is taking what she learned at workshops and using it at her current job. At first, it was not easy for “April” because she wanted to work in an office and felt that working at a grocery store meant that she was not enough. “April” has come to find that working in a grocery store is like a blessing in disguise, as she recognizes the opportunity to grow and heal by connecting with people in her community. “April” also got the chance to vote for the first time in her life in the last election.
“April” stated, “This is the hard part now. This is when the work begins.” “April” feels that her story is just the beginning and hopes that her experience will help other women. She is grateful for the support and encouragement she receives from Life-Work Planning Center.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the subject of this story.*