In 2009, Zaneta Reid left her abusive boyfriend in order to start a better life for herself and her four sons.
Soon after the break-up, Zaneta's ex-boyfriend came to her house and tried to strangle her. She went to court to testify against him, and he was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Zaneta came to StoryCorps to talk about what happened next and how it led to her leaving her home.
ZANETA: After I testified, I started getting death threats and people coming by my home, throwing things. I mean, my ex almost killed me and now I have his family members telling me they’re going to do the same.
At that time Michael was 16, Anthony was 12, Dian was only 5, and Zaire was 3. I just packed our stuff and we left. Dian was sick, so we went to Children’s Hospital and they said he was OK. We spent that first night in the waiting room, and the nurses were asking when our ride was coming, but I was just waiting for the sun to come up so Michael could go to school.
I started calling shelters and they didn’t have any space at that time. Each night we would have to find a friend’s house to stay in, and after two weeks they finally had space for me and the boys. After about four months, I was permanently housed.
When I got my keys, oh my gosh, I was so excited. The little ones were running around ‘cause they had their own room and they didn’t have to share with their brothers anymore, and I was just excited because we had our own place and it was safe.
One of the hardest things I ever did was to leave my home knowing I’m not going to go back here. So I wanted to give back, to help moms and ladies that are going through the same thing that I had just gone through. I tell them a little bit about my story and how it’s hard to keep that hope, but it’s not forever.
Zaneta Reid now works at Mary's Place, the same shelter where she stayed with her boys. Her job is to help homeless women and their children find housing and reclaim their lives.
Her interview was recorded in partnership with Mary’s Place, as part of the “Finding Our Way” project, with support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Hers was among over 90 interviews that StoryCorps recorded in 2014 and 2015 with families experiencing homelessness in the Puget Sound area. The recordings would not have been possible without partnership with the YWCA of Seattle, King, and Snohomish; Catholic Community Services of Tacoma; Seattle University’s Center for Strategic Communications; and many other organizations. In this collection you will hear from families who have lived through homelessness sharing their experiences in their own words.
To learn how you can help, please visit Seattle University's Project on Family Homeless.
Produced by Eve Claxton for StoryCorps.
Consulting Producer: Dan Collison.
Music: "Dust in Sunlight" by Podington Bear. Found using the Free Music Archives.