Part 2: Humans Behind Homelessness

Originally written for Parity Magazine June Edition. Continued from blog ‘Humans Behind Homelessness.’

Compiled and written by Morgan Cataldo, Lived Experience Service Development Worker, Launch Housing.

Launch Housing’s LEAG members have chosen to keep their specific quotes anonymous to protect their anonymity. The insights in this article are from our Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG) who have each experienced homelessness in its various forms.

Our hope is to add to the conversation through sharing the realities sleeping rough brings and to remind the audience that no person moves through their homelessness journey in the same way as another.

‘A frozen trauma’: the ongoing impact.

What is often not spoken of is the myriad and ongoing affects after experiencing homelessness.

Often, the emotional impact of a traumatic experience, such as homelessness, is unable to be dealt with until the crisis is averted — for some, it may take years to realise and unpack the impact homelessness has had.

‘After being laughed at and made fun of in such a public, humiliating and destructive way, it takes a long time to rebuild trust with people. The complexity of the trauma and shame is completely misunderstood and not taken into account. The shame is debilitating.’

‘The capacity to catastrophize when you’ve dealt with crisis is so much higher than average. You know what’s possible and that most people’s worst fears have been your reality.’

‘I had to block out the emotions at the time to get through the experience. From going from living in wealth, to being sexually assaulted and having absolutely nothing with no support. Looking back to when I was sleeping in my car, I think how helpful having tinted windows would have been.’

(Image: attributed Christian Spies Unsplash)

‘Homelessness changes your life for the worse, forever. The ongoing fear of going to the mailbox, even after the crisis is over.’ ‘I had to be really strategic’: trying to find safety at the centre of risk Reflecting on how to find and create situations that are somehow more ‘safe’ — even when finding yourself experiencing such a high-risk issue.

‘I felt safer sleeping in the city — there’s more people, there’s movement and you don’t feel so alone. I preferred this to sitting alone in a park in the suburbs somewhere, where you’re completely isolated. There’s also more services in the city. For example, where I was in my suburb, I didn’t know of any food vans.’

‘When I was sleeping in my car, I had to be really strategic about where I parked. I was always having to think and worry about this stuff.’

‘The helpfulness of having other people around in the city who were having a similar experience. The importance of outreach teams, specifically in the CBD, for those who are sleeping rough.’

‘When I was really vulnerable, I would fall into housing with people who were predators and not know it until it was too late.’

‘It didn’t make sense for me to sleep in a group when I was sleeping rough, it felt counter-intuitive.’

The insights from this blog are from our Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG) who have each experienced homelessness in its various forms. The members have chosen to publish this article under the LEAG banner, keeping their individual identities in relation to specific quotes anonymous.

Read the third part in the Humans Behind Homelessness series.