Here’s an excerpt from a recent blog (slightly edited for spelling) by a woman with multiple social and medical problems who went to a New York City shelter. Instead of getting help, she was mistreated by other residents, falsely accused by shelter staff, chastised for asking her case worker to contact the shelter for help, and finally exited from the shelter. As she explains, “There was no real help given.”
The problem is that shelters are filled with women who not true victims of domestic violence. So when a true victim, male or female, comes for help, shelter staff is ill-prepared to assist…
…I am a victim of MULTIPLE domestic and other violence, rapes (not once but multiple rapes over my young 30 year life, starting the age of 20. Add to it forced sex and being forced to exchange sex for favors), mental, psychological, and physical abuses and untreated post-traumatic effects. I am not only on the streets from a long and painful drawn out process of battle between me and a discriminating landlord, I am also without a shelter due to unsafety and danger to a person like me.
Yes, there are many good people in the shelter but in general someone like me has to endlessly fight to stay afloat. There is no time to do anything else left, nor the energy. Things are intepreted differently there and an innocent look or smile can lead to a war or to a sexual aggression. I have lived through such a condition and was acknowledged to be a victim of a rape.
I was taken out of the shelter, and given to AVP [Anti-Violence Project] by the ADA [Assistant District Attorney], and AVP sent me to a shelter (domestic violence) that was a great wonderful experience until a bruja [Spanish for “witch”] was placed with me in the same apartment. She tortured me (if you know a ‘bruja’ you will know what I mean, just what I mean), she spilled hot water on my hand while the other one pressed the fridge door against my back (after I have requested she looks before she opens the fridge because she hit me with that fridge door once she opened the fridge.).
I have placed numerous verbal and written complaints to the Domestic Violence Shelter and all to no avail. There was no real help given. Instead – false accusations of not cleaning (I cleaned regularly, weekly) and not keeping up with the contract (which consisted of cleaning and getting along with your roommates.) were made against me. No other changes were made. Things got progressively worse at a shelter. It came to a point I did not want to come back to the shelter and came right before the curfew. That did not help. I was still harassed and hassled by the bruja and her roommate.
When I finally turned to one of my counselors who is credited with working with drug and alcohol abuse and asked her to place a phone call to my case worker at the domestic violence shelter, I was speedily dismissed two days later, after being given 3 hours to pack my things. The director of shelter was rushing me ungodly; on the way out bruja spilled syrup into my bookbag and threw my religious holidays and celebrations book out of the window.
The domestic violence shelter sent me back to the same 30th street men’s shelter at Bellevue where I was molested and raped and forced into an unwanted relationship. They smiled as they handed me the letter. I returned to AVP and was sent to Olivieri [Women Drop-In Center], where I was accosted for being gay and transgendered and deprived of a seat at the table. The management of the drop in center would not help after the first incident and said I was causing trouble. I sat quietly studying my home school work load.
I am a minister (ordained), and a religious student, activist, and avid learner. I waste not a minute and when among strangers am shy and introspective. I don’t even speak let alone ’cause trouble’. I left the drop in center only to be yelled at my by counselor Julio at AVP about leaving it. He said he will get me to become a client of a drop in center, not only a drop in, but repeatedly failed to accomplish that. The ADA sent me to social services which sent me to AVP. I remained on the streets, sleeping at Penn Station, sleep-walking through the town, utilizing the bathroom time (under 5 minutes) and the trains…
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