the long walk home 02

The scary part wasn’t that a woman was raped in a room on the same floor at Renaissance shelter. By another woman. With security guards on every floor in the building. And shelter staff on the premises.

A concern was that the staff, upon the alleged victim’s return from the hospital, placed the victim in the room next door to the room of the accused rapist.

Another concern was that the alleged victim, a short time later, had two black eyes.

The scary part was that I didn’t invite the woman for coffee and have a chat with her about what was going on and what she wanted to do about it and how could I help.

I’m always amused by people who think I should seek the safety of a shelter.

I didn’t know if I should tell. What if the victim was just trying to survive the nightmare and didn’t want to report anything else ever again?

Worse, what if she did want to do something about it? Who could I possibly tell? What advice could I possibly give her?

DHS was the only effective advocacy I knew of, and they weren’t all that effective. Any interest DHS bothered to show about the goings-on in that place didn’t slow down any of the staff’s craziness in the slightest. Theirs was the type of behavior I had previously only seen exhibited by die-hard druggies and career criminals from Chicago on crack.

So I STFU and got the hell out of there.

I know people, though, who are still trying to navigate the madness of the shelter system. And I’m just astounded by how much they’re willing to put up with in the name of … shelter. Not actual shelter, mind you. Actual shelter would consist of something providing safety or protection.

And, you know, I think people get confused by the wording. You know, like calling Susan Smith a mother. She technically is, because she did give birth (allegedly) to two boys. But the word is more of a name or title than it is a description of function.

And so it goes with shelters.

And when you think you’re down and out, and you’re in a shelter, it can be hard to think that you have viable alternatives. Or even better ones.

It’s hard to believe that sleeping on a subway car is so much safer than sleeping in a shelter, populated by secuirty guards. Or so much quieter. Or so much more restful. Or warmer, even with the air conditioning on in the middle of winter.

You know, in England, they call sleeping outside “rough sleeping”. Which I find hilarious. The rough sleeping is indoors.

22. September 2013 by sojourner hardeman
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