SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) It’s no secret that Utah has been taking drastic measures to clean up the homeless population in downtown Salt Lake City, and create better lives for them. Cyndi Harris, MSW Case Manager at Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, joined Nicea DeGering on Midday with ways they are helping homeless women, and how you can join in the cause.
One of the most powerful things Harris says she has ever heard a woman in their addiction recovery program say, was that in order to survive the streets, she used drugs. That the decisions she had to make on the streets to survive left her feeling so degraded and worthless, she used drugs to cope.
Harris says to think of a woman you know, your mom or your sister, for example. Now think of this woman you know having everything in her life disappear: Purse, gone; ID, gone; money, warm clothing, food, shelter, and most of all any sense of safety.
Safety is a basic survival need. So this woman you know is now in a position to have to make survival decisions in order to get her basic needs met:
- Afraid to lay down and sleep out of fear of what may happen to her
- Being so desperate they will trade sexual favors for a shower, or a place to sleep so they are not on the streets and out of the cold, snow and rain so they don’t freeze to death, or are severely assaulted.
- She gets involved romantically with someone else on the streets for protection and with that she can then be forced to any number of illegal or sexual activities to maintain that protection
- There is also the very real danger of sex trafficking where this woman might be over powered or deceived, drugged and repeatedly forced to perform whether conscious or not
All of this is extremely damaging to this woman’s sense of self and her sense of worth. In order to survive the degradation, she uses drugs.
The Rescue Mission has an emergence service to help women off the streets; shelter, meals, day room to provide safety and keep people alive. That’s the first step to their Recovery Program to help get women permanently off of the streets.
How people can help:
- Treat homeless women with dignity and respect –
- Give them a Rescue Mission Help Card – You can order them off of their website: RescueSaltLake.org
- Sponsor women their recovery program. Rescue Mission is privately funded on donations so you can help ladies off the streets. Go to RescueSaltLake.org to help.
- As women are rebuilding their lives they are in need of stable employment and people willing to give them a second chance – contact Rescue Mission if you would like to help one of the ladies get back to work.
- It takes all of us working together to help people off our streets.