“I’m from northern California. Born in Redwood City. Moved a lot, but all in northern California.”

“What’s one of your favorite things about yourself?”

“Being a mom. I have 3 children. Twin 18’s and a 17. All girls. 2 in college, one a senior in high school.”

“How did you come to be connected with Downtown Streets?”

“I was married for ten years and I got a divorce. It wasn’t a bad divorce, but I found myself struggling to survive. I was in a wheelchair for 7 years, so I had to do what I had to do. I volunteered for Street Team. Lived outside, lived inside for a number of years. They helped me a lot in the very beginning when street team was new. Now I’m alumni and they call me to volunteer when they need somebody.”

“Why were you in a wheelchair for 7 years?”

“The first time I slipped. I broke my left ankle, every bone in the top, and my foot turned backwards. That was a hard heal. And I’ve been in a relationship for a long time and that person found that that was a good way for me to be.”

“Whaddya mean…hurt?”

“Not driving, not going anywhere. So that just continued. So broken left, then right, then left, then right, then left, then right. So I was in a wheelchair for a long time because that person would put my feet broken.”

“He would break your feet?”

“Yes. So the doctor told me I’d never get out of a wheelchair, unless I had surgery, and I looked at that doctor, and I never went back to him again. So I got out of a wheelchair. And I drive, and I walk. I’m supposed to go to physical therapy and that I might do. But I’ve been walking for a year and a half, two years now. Better now than at first. At first it was markedly not a normal gait. I would get up and try to hold things, hold on to fences and things but it wasn’t working. I needed to work, I don’t like not working, and I don’t like not walking if I know I can in my mind.”

“Sounds like you have a strong will.”

“Yes, I’m a mom. I can’t not walk, unless you saw my legs off I guess. I don’t want to give this guy any ideas.”

“Was this the divorce you’re talking about?”

“No, the father of my kids is a great guy.”

“The wheelchair relationship…are you still in that one?”

“A little bit. Yesterday they called the police on him after the Street Team function because he told me it was time for me not to be here any longer.”

“Be on the Street Team?”

“No, here on this planet. I walked away, and he followed me and I cut through downtown San Jose through a bank and asked security if he would walk me to my vehicle because a dangerous person was out there. I told the security guard, ‘If I turn to you and look, I need you to call the police.’ I walked outside to my car, and he was trying to get in, so I looked at the security guard and told him he might wanna get wanna get out of there because the cops were coming.”

“Sounds like a pretty intense relationship.”

“Yes! But he’s mostly locked up. Probably 12 of those years in and out.”

“So you’ve been in a relationship 7 years?”

“Maybe 12 or 13?”

Why do you want to stay in a relationship with someone who is menacing in that way?”

“I don’t, but I can’t get myself out without getting injured badly. This last time, he just got out a month ago, I wrote to him and said, ‘I can’t support you anymore. I can’t support your drug habit, your gang life, I can’t house you. I’m done.’ He didn’t accept that, so he thought I should be dead. He’s never paid rent, or for food, or clothes. And he’s very affiliated in a gang.”

Kate-2“Where do you get your support from?”

“Myself I think. People don’t know this about me. People would never put me in a gang. I’m not in one. They would never associate me with that person. Because I’m a mom. Everyone thinks I’m a soccer mom in a wheelchair with misfortune. Nobody knows.”

“Wow, I can’t even imagine the strength required to be in that situation.”

“I give it to being a mom because I have to survive, and I have to be a role model because my kids can’t know these things. To go back to this person, and get him a new wardrobe, and pay his rent, and pay his food, and write to him, and keep money with his books.”

“Do you know that I’m doing this story with the intention to share it publicly? Is that okay?”

“How public?”

“It’s a very well known project. It’d be on the internet for anyone to find.”

“It’s the truth.”

“Okay, I just want to make sure I’m honoring your privacy.”

“The only scary part to me would be because of the gang affiliation…I don’t want retaliation from his people because he is straight outta Compton. It could be a little dangerous for me. I don’t know about up this way.”

“I don’t imagine that anyone in a gang like that is looking at my blog but-“

“My family and friends would be in disbelief because they don’t like him.”

“I was in a situation like this before with a woman in the Tenderloin who was facing addiction. I feel like she wanted me to share the story because once the truth is out there something shifts-“

“The tension eases off-“


“And I’ve battled addiction – alcohol.”

“I’ve battled addiction. Everyone has been addicted to something. The whole point of this is to show that we may have different circumstances-“

“But everyone is going through something. And money doesn’t fix anything.”

“And some people do a better job managing it and looking okay to the outside world.”

“You can choose to act out. This human chooses to act out violently because that’s the defense mechanism that comes out. That people should be harmed, slapped, beat, be in a shallow ditch, be killed. I am so the opposite mind thought. I don’t yell, I don’t swing at people, and I don’t spank, so it’s so hard for me to internalize and get that mentality.”

“You two seem so different now, have you evolved to different places? Were you more similar at the beginning of the 12 years? How did you two originally connect?”

“I was in somebody’s wedding. She got married to a guy that got picked up for traffic tickets and they put him in the county jail. He couldn’t use the phone, but this guy, who I’ve been with, had phone privileges so he called my house to relay a message to this guys’ wife to stay with me. I had an extra room so I told him it was okay for her to stay. About 4-6 weeks later this guy calls back, foot breaker, and says that the entire 24 hours the guy that got picked up for traffic tickets was in jail he was talking about you. What a good mom you are, what a great person you are, good cook-“

“Did he even know you or-“

“No, this was just from talking to the guy that one day. So he called me and said I really want to meet you. I met him for coffee and have been with him ever since.”

“What was your first impression of him when you met him?”

“He was very nice. Big, strong, protector.”

“He made you feel safe at first?”

“I guess. He always played the role of ‘if anyone does anything to you or your kids I’ll kill em, I’ll kick their ass’. I thought we were protected and that that was all lip service. As time went on and I got more history I realized he was heavy duty gang, heavy duty killing, heavy duty 10 strikes. I don’t know how he keeps getting out. He’s a violent criminal.”

“At what point did he start being violent with you?”

“Probably after a year. It was a jealousy thing that I had friends. Not intimate friends, but I still had a lot of friends from my married life. Some are guys, some are girls, some are married couples. They’re my friends, but that wasn’t acceptable.”

“That’s a pretty unique way of connecting and starting a relationship with someone.”

“Yeah, the first time he got arrested when we were together I said, ‘I’ll see you when you get out’ and he said ‘whaddya mean, none of my other girlfriends have ever waited’. I said, ‘What do they do’ and he said ‘They go on to the next guy’ and I said, ‘That’s not what I do’.”

Kate-3“How long were you together before he got arrested the first time?”

“Probably a year.”

“And had he been violent by that point?”

“Yeah, and I should have gone. That was a 2 year stint, straight 2 year. And then he got out, and after that he never really was out more than a month to 6 weeks and he’d go back. I never asked why. And then one day I went to court and they read his charges and every single one of his charges, crack was involved. Possession every time. Armed robberies. Home invasions. Trafficking. Things that I didn’t know anything about. Organized crime. That was all in LA.”

“In my life I’ve had some intense connections with people and I try to understand why…do you have any insight into why you two came together?” 

“Yeah, maybe because I wanted to fix it. I wanted to fix somebody else so that they would be happy and enjoy this life. But I can’t fix anybody. It takes a long time to accept that. Because I’m trying to help you, and you just got back to that. And I would take it personal. But now I just think FU. Go back! I don’t want you. But that’s not acceptable to him.”

“So let’s say he does accept it, and you’re free from that situation…what does your life look like in 5 years?”

“I don’t live in California. I live somewhere beautiful. My kids are through college and I’m happy. Not scared. Not scared to go out in the dark.”Kate-4

“Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t even comprehend the level of bravery you embody. How did the Downtown Streets Team help you?”

“Made me appreciate things I have and things I don’t have. Appreciate meaning I slept outside, and I appreciated it because I had a blanket and it wasn’t so bad. I came from a marriage that was a good marriage in a blessed, blessed life to picking the wrong path, the wrong people. This guy, any money I had, he took it. And he sold 3 of my vehicles. Brand new vehicles. Nice cars. For dope. For dope. New car off the lot sold while I was in the hospital with no remorse. It baffled me that another human could do this. A human that loves me. How can you justify doing that? But there’s no justification. So…you live and learn. And try to see signs more.”

Learn more about Downtown Streets at http://streetsteam.org/


February 8, 2017