Julianna’s Story

Julianna came to Saint John’s straight from treatment on September 18th, 2017, as there was no other place to go.

Coming from a life of domestic violence and addiction, her partner was incarcerated for attacking her in her seventh month of pregnancy. And because of her addiction, CPS took custody of her children, and gave her little to no hope that she would ever get them back. Reunification, they told her repeatedly, was not possible, as she had burned too many bridges, made too many mistakes.

Seeing and speaking with Julianna today, this is not the story one would think lies behind this strong woman with that beautiful smile.

Saint John’s isn’t just about treating the addiction, but also about addressing the behaviors and choices that led to my addiction.

“For me, Saint John’s was the last house on the block,” explains Julianna. “I knew after coming here that I was going to make it. I left my old behaviors at the door. Saint John’s isn’t just about treating the addiction, but also about addressing the behaviors and choices that led to my addiction. Getting sober has been only one small piece of my recovery. Saint John’s taught me how to focus on new and healthier behaviors and choices. They held me accountable, they taught me how to get up and go to work. They taught me to understand the importance of a credit score and paying bills on time. Saint John’s provided me with the structure that I so desperately needed in my life.”

Julianna’s Real Change

Julianna’s “aha moment” came in a Saint John’s Power to Change class during a discussion about the cycle of abuse. “That’s me!” she realized. “My partner attacked me, he is now in prison, and I was still on his side. That was a game changer.”

One of the hardest parts about being at Saint John’s, though, was watching other families be reunified. In the beginning, Julianna really did not believe that that was ever going to happen for her and her children.

But Child Protective Services had given her a deadline – she needed to have her affairs in order by August 17th, 2018, if she was ever going to have a chance of getting her kids back. So after eleven months of intense work on herself, Julianna was finally reunited with her children. With the help of Saint John’s Independent Housing Program, she was able to secure her own apartment and get her home ready to welcome her children. She credits the support of her sister, her mom, and Saint John’s with making the impossible possible.

Less than a year after walking through the red door at Saint John’s, Julianna will graduate from Saint John’s Employment Training Program, selected from her peers as the class representative. She has a new job as the general manager at Club Pilates and is loving the balance she has attained, focusing on both her physical health and mental well-being. She is actively involved in her recovery, having gone through Weave, and encourages others to stand up to domestic violence and sexual assault. She attends recovery meetings often, both for herself and also as a support person for friends in need of Real Change.

If you had told me a year ago that I would have my children back in my life in less than twelve months, I never would have believed you.

Julianna‘s goal is to return to school in the spring to work towards becoming an X-ray technician. She acknowledges that she has to keep working on paying her way towards school, but she now possesses the tools she needs to achieve her dream of becoming a successful career woman, a student, a mother, and most importantly, an independent and self-sustainable adult.


This post was written by Amy McCuaig, Copy & Creative Services Manager, Saint John’s Program for Real Change.

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