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Homeless people share their life stories: Rebecca, Andrew, Elle, Melissa and sk8r rat.

Homeless People - Melissa's Story

Rape fades to normality

Melissa has been treated like a toilet all her life, as a child, as a teenage girl and now as a woman she has been raped sometimes daily by whatever male wants to use her.

She is thirty, with a slight figure and a quiet presence. She spoke of a male and female boarding house where she is residing. "Its getting a bit much," she says "there is always a guy wanting something sexual, night after night."

Melissa left home because of sexual abuse at the age of 15. On the streets, she would pair up with a guy for protection. I guess, at least she got to chose which guy it would be and have some influence over what happened sexually and when, as they were 'in a relationship.'

But she is off the streets, there is no boyfriend at the moment and the boarding house is taking its toll.

I asked if anyone at the boarding house had ever forced themselves upon her. She explains that over the years she has learnt that either violence or rape follows refusal.

Her experience of life has been as the victim of regular
sexual exploitation from one male or another.

What you or I understand as rape, does not apply… as the rapes add up, the violence adds up and she is now at a point where she copes by not resisting the sexual advances and rationalizing to herself that once a week is a good week, instead of once a day.

It's hard to describe what it is like being in Melissa's presence. She is extremely shy, hiding in the background and avoiding attention from anyone… she flies under the radar.

We talk quietly and slowly together about the boarding house as she maps out her plan of how and when she will move away from it. Her plan is daring, it means she will make a choice and take action against what her attackers want by quietly disappearing.

She didn't need anything from me, she just wanted to say her plan out loud and tell me of how it will work out for her. I just said "It's going to be really good when you do it, isn't it?" Affirming her plan and that things will work out for her.

We have to be so careful with people like Melissa not to stride into their lives and make decisions for them or take power away from them because we don't know what is best for her.
Only Melissa knows what her next step should be, what goals she should set in her life and what she needs to do to survive.

We are just there, being present in a way that is gentle and open. Being present with people in pain is done without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

Dominic Mapstone B.Soc.Wk
Rebeccas Community
dominic dot mapstone at gmail dot com