Lorraine. From one form of abuse to another.

“I was living in a council flat with my partner two years ago but the relationship became psychologically abusive. In the end he ended up trying to strangle me but the police said there wasn’t enough proof to charge him, so when I went to the council they said I would be making myself intentionally homeless if I left him, which meant they had no duty to help me at all. I was too scared to go back so I had to sleep rough for six months before I was eligible for even temporary accommodation.

Eventually I got a place in a B&B for homeless people but I was bullied so badly by the other residents that I had to leave there too. There were both men and women and lots of them were alcoholics or drug addicts. I had my nose broken once and I caught one of the women in there trying to put vodka in my fruit juice because she knew I was a recovering alcoholic myself. When I complained to the manager they threw me out for making false allegations. They didn’t want to know. The woman that did it had been there so long and was so old I just think they thought it would be easier if I was on the street instead of her.

The council said that made me intentionally homeless once again, so now I‘ve got to wait another six months before I can apply for something else. I don’t want to go back to the temporary B&Bs at all so I’m holding out for a permanent home. I know it will take longer but to be honest I feel safer on the street anyway. At least a few people look out for each other out here

I have a daughter who has autism but she’s been in full time care now for a long time. When she was growing up she started to show a lot of serious behavioural issues at school and eventually she just refused to go completely. It took about 10 years for the doctors to figure out what was wrong with her. Her father took no part in her life and in the end she was taken into specialist supported housing on her own. I still see her whenever I can but I don’t think she would understand my situation.

After that I started drinking too much to cope with the stress. I was drinking a litre of vodka a day at one point but I managed to give up three years ago. Even the smell of it makes me sick now. But when I became homeless I started on the drugs instead. I’m trying to get clean and I start a methadone programme on Monday, but just before Christmas I got caught with £80 worth of heroin by undercover police and I have to go up to court next week. I know they’re only doing their job but I don’t have any money so I don’t know how I will pay the fine. I don’t know how I’ll even get to court but the thought of prison is terrifying.

I have a support worker with a local charity that helps me with food and clothes and a little conversation, but the council only help me with the methadone. Right now I’m trying to get enough for a backpacker’s hostel because it’s so cold. Some of them ask for I.D so the homeless can’t use them but there are a couple that take pity on you if you’ve got the money. If there were women only night shelters I might go there instead, but I’m too scared after all my experiences in those places. Now I just want to get clean. If I could get clean I would try to see my daughter more often. I don’t know what would be the solution for me. I know it’s not this though."

Lorraine, Edinburgh.  

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