Editor’s Note: This is part of a special series, Moms Who Wow Us, where we partnered with Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and the Today show to honor everyday heroes ahead of Mother’s Day. You can read about all the moms we’re celebrating here.
In 1991, Je’net Kreitner never thought she’d find herself homeless. She’d attended college on an opera scholarship, studied theater, and was working in the entertainment industry. She was also happily married with a son. But things took a turn while she was starring in a show, ironically titled “Homeless.” The lead character she played was a street addict who had grown up being abused, and it resurfaced memories of Je’net’s past.
As a child, Je’net was abused by family members, including her father. After speaking up about it, she lost her family’s support, along with her job and marriage. “I ended up running away to Salt Lake City, Utah, to open up a heavy metal club with a man I’d met at a music convention,” Je’net recalls. “He seemed to understand me when no one else did.”
The relationship became violent — and it took Je’net about three years to get out. During a trip to another music show on January 24, 1994, Je’net and her son were thrown out of the man’s van with nothing but two suitcases and $20. “That night we slept in a phone booth,” she says, “the peak of my homeless experience until I finally got help.”