Wynona Ward interviewed by Joyce Follet, January 17–18, 2004
Scope and Contents
Ward has written accounts of the abuse in her childhood home; the oral history does not recount that experience. Ward describes her experience of poverty and rural isolation as they influence gender relations and domestic abuse. She assesses the impact of the women's movement on responses to family violence and details the in-home, "wraparound" services that distinguish Have Justice Will Travel from other advocacy groups and service providers. (Transcript 80 pp.)
Dates of Materials
- January 17–18, 2004
- Follet, Joyce (Interviewer, Person)
- Ward, Wynona (circa 1951) (Interviewee, Person)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Web Access
The interviewer and narrator for this interview have agreed that it may be placed on the web.
Conditions Governing Access
This interview is open for research use without restriction.
Conditions Governing Use
The interviewer and narrator have transferred copyright of this interview to Smith College.
Biographical / Historical
Wynona Lund Ward was born July 4, 1951, the third of five children in a family beset by physical and sexual violence. The family lived a few miles from the village of West Fairlee in rural Vermont. When not unemployed, her father worked in copper mines, granite quarries, logging, and road construction. He drank excessively. Her mother worked as a housecleaner, school bus driver, dishwasher and cook. Wynona's father raped her repeatedly, beginning when she was three years old. Her grandfather raped her at age nine. Her mother and grandmother were verbally and physically abusive as well. Family members, neighbors and others turned a blind eye.
Wynona graduated from high school in 1969 and soon married a school friend, Harold Ward. She held clerical jobs in the 1970s until she and Harold formed a long-haul trucking company, Ward Transportation Services. From 1980 to 1995, she drove an 18-wheeler around the country.
In 1986 a niece reported sexual abuse by her grandfather (Wynona's father) and, in 1991, rape by her uncle (Wynona's brother). These reports triggered Wynona's own traumatic memories of child sexual assault. As Wynona became her niece's advocate through a protracted series of legal proceedings, she became versed in family law and wrote lengthy, reasoned critiques of court rulings and procedures. Once her brother was convicted, she lobbied for sex-offender treatment for him, then mounted a public campaign to deny him parole when he refused to participate.
From 1993 to 1995, while riding in the truck, Ward completed studies for a college degree. In 1995 she entered Vermont Law School. In the course of her studies she focused on issues of family violence and worked in legal clinics. Upon graduation in 1998 she created Have Justice Will Travel, a mobile service that addresses rural poverty and isolation by providing free in-house consultations, transportation, and legal representation for low-income women and children who are victims of domestic violence. She has begun to receive national attention (e.g., Sunday Globe Magazine, Ms. Magazine, a Lifetime TV Achievement Award) as well as grants from foundations and the Department of Justice. HJWT now has offices in Brattleboro and Bennington as well as in the Wards' home. HJWT has also developed a women-in-transition component to provide support and life skills for women moving toward self-sufficiency. Through lectures, trainings, and involvement in local and national organizations, Ward promotes HJWT as a model for ending rural family violence.
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
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