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What would you have done?

Posted by on Sep. 19, 2013 at 5:17 PM
  • 15 Replies

I noticed a distraught woman at the train station this evening, she was crying like her heart was going to break. I went over to her to talk to her, got her to sit down, talk about what was bothering her, tried to advise her of a plan to keep herself safe and get herself out of a bad situation - caring about someone a woman should never care about.    No, no immediate danger, the guy was in jail for hitting another woman.   He had gone off with this other woman and left her, so she felt many things - jealousy, anger, and yet also very upset about what he'd done to this other gal.   

 But for a moment there I thought she was going to walk right in front of the 5:07 that comes barrelling through without stopping.

The thing was that I was at the far end of the station and she had to have walked past about a hundred people - not one of them went to her.   She was in really bad shape too, just sobbing and then started wandering over to the tracks. 

We talked for some time, and she got calmer, but at the end she said 'I want him dead'.   I said don't throw away your life over someone who is so worthless.   You need to pick up and make a new start without this user.   And I recognize that she may go right back out and see this man and make all the same mistakes again, but at least she 'got the information', I gave her suggestions of what she could do to make that change.   She'd be the one who has to actually make those changes.   I explained how abusers twist women around their little finger and get them to believe in them, and how to recognize that and get away from it.

What would you do?   Would you be uncomfortable reaching out to a  stranger, or might you be suspicious that it was a fake and just an attempt to get some money?   Would you have felt perhaps there was no good trying to get this woman to make a change in her life?   Or would you have felt good about at least giving someone an opportunity to make a change, even if they couldn't do it at this time, perhaps they would later?

For me it's about opening a door for people, they may choose not to walk through it, but I can't control that.   All I can do is what I can do - let them know how things are, they have to make the steps.

What would you have done and why?

No right or wrong answer, please just let everyone answer and say their idea in their own way without criticism.


by on Sep. 19, 2013 at 5:17 PM
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by on Sep. 19, 2013 at 6:29 PM
I tend to stay out of other people's business. I help people when they've come to me looking for someone to talk to or need advice but I tend not to give unsolicited advice bc some people get snippy when you do that. You never know how someone else is going to react. I give you lots of credit for doing what you could for that stranger but I'm the kind of person who walks away from screaming children in stores or ignores when parents aren't paying attention to their kids.
by on Sep. 19, 2013 at 7:04 PM

I'm pretty terrified of strangers, but I'd hope I would help her. I saw a woman I don't know crying on her way out of preschool and almost went to talk to her, but the second she saw me, she smiled and hurried faster, which I took as a "leave me alone" signal. Still feel bad though.

by Leah on Sep. 19, 2013 at 11:15 PM
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 that was a great thing you did :-)

I really hope that in the same situation I would do the same thing.

by Anonymous 2 on Sep. 20, 2013 at 9:03 AM

You did a very nice thing. I wouldn't of went up to her because of my social anxiety but I would of wanted to . 

by on Sep. 20, 2013 at 9:08 AM
1 mom liked this
I'd like to think I would go up to someone like that and try to help. I'm not worried about people trying to scam me or anything like that. I can still offer help and have boundaries with people.
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by Bronze Member on Sep. 20, 2013 at 9:18 AM


One of the reasons I didn't worry too much was that there was a whole coffee klatch of transit police right down the platform about 50 feet, munching doughnuts, LOL!  I forgot to mention that, LOL!!!!!   I figured if she started punching me the cops would come and break it up, and I'd have a good story to tell at lunch the next day, lol.

Of course with my luck, I'd look like a domestic assault victim afterward and the cops would come over and put my husband in jail.....LOL.   He would probably think it was another of my practical jokes.   'Ok, ha ha ha, ok, that was funny for a couple minutes, GUYS????   GUYS???'

I also looked at her clothing - no pockets, no coat, so I knew she wasn't carrying a weapon.   And she didn't appear to be delusional or severely mentally ill (generally, the transit police stop anyone who appears to be obviously mentally ill and won't let them through to the tracks).

When people are severely psychotic and off meds, their eye gaze is affected, proving how neurological psychosis is, but you learn to look for signs like that.   Psychotic doesn't necessarily mean aggressive, though, a big factor in aggression is alcohol or substance abuse - psychosis and substance abuse are NOT good buddies. 

Most of the severely mentally ill homeless who are around the station, you get to know, because they are there every single day.   And you see how extremely symptoms vary from day to day or hour to hour.   Some of them are fine to talk to some days and on other days when their symptoms are really bad, it's best to just avoid them.

Quoting Anonymous:

I'd like to think I'd  have the nerve to intervene and offer help, but the truth is I'd probably hangback just like the rest of those people she walked past.  I'm always so worried that things might not go ok, and I hate being in any kind of scene. It's just that I'm often not quick enough to realize that it's ok & it won't be too much of a risk to get involved & the moment has passed & then I regret it. It's good though that all those people saw you step forward. Hopefully you talking to her helped in her in some way, and maybe more than you will ever know?



by Peggy on Sep. 20, 2013 at 9:49 AM
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I have to commend you for doing what you did.  I hope that if that situation came up to me I would have the courage to do what you did.  You may have saved this woman's life.

by Bronze Member on Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:29 AM


thanks.   I actually feel really good to think that a lot of people would do the same, and the only thing that holds them back is concerns about what could go wrong, rather than just not caring.   That's what I really was wondering, so thanks all.

Quoting lucy164:

I have to commend you for doing what you did.  I hope that if that situation came up to me I would have the courage to do what you did.  You may have saved this woman's life.


by on Sep. 20, 2013 at 12:50 PM

You are an angel! There was a time I have probably done the same things myself, after I left an abusive person I was very able to recognize other women in the situation. I have even tried to convince those women to leave and whatever else and I think I would tend to get upset because they would never listen to anything and it took me awhile to realize I was just that bullheaded myself.

There was also a time that if I saw a homless person that I would either give them money or food if I had it. While standing at a bus stop one day an older man was standing up against a light post and there were lots of people around and all of a sudden the man just fell over. I was the only one that ran over to help him, everyone else didnt even acknowledge him.

Not saying I wouldnt do those things now, but I am less likely too. Partially because my heart for people in general has just grown colder. I don't trust people like I used to. I see the same people over and over on the corner wearing better clothes than I have, begging for money. I have encountered some of the most F***ED UP people in my life time and seen more F****ED UP things than I would ever care to admit. My faith in people has been depleted.

If I was the one there I would have probably fought with myself over it. Do I go over there and try to talk to her or do I mind my own beeswax? It is a tough decision for me, anymore I am just so terrified of social interactions. I would have to muster up the courage to even go over to her.  I commend you for having the ability to do you what you did and the girl is lucky that you happened to be there.

by Bronze Member on Sep. 20, 2013 at 5:31 PM



I don't know if this info will help, but there are two basic categories of 'well dressed homeless'.

One is the professional homeless person, who isn't actually homeless, at least not in the familiar sense.   He may hang around shelters so he can recruit people to run numbers or drugs, or to commit other crimes.  He might steal people's disability checks, etc.   He will take advantage of any service for the homeless he can get.   He'll get clothing from various agencies, or perhaps from the profits of his crimes.   He may be marginally housed - his friends get sick of him and chuck him out periodically - some of them are actually homeless, but are so adept at taking everything they can get, that they aren't really in the same category as the 'needy homeless'.

The other thing is that some of the homeless people do get decent clothes from agencies.  In SOME cities, there's a perpetual supply of cheap, bright kmart clothing and many of the homeless that are near the agencies, have a perpetual stream of clothes.

That MAY mean they're safe from the weather.   If they are severely mentally ill, they may lose the clothes(can't organize or remember things) or they may be afraid to wear them - or they may wear the winter coat in summer and nothing warm in winter(many psychotic people don't react  to the cold). 

Or they may get robbed of the clothes (many psychotic people can't defend themselves from attack).   So they get robbed once a week and periodically someone from the agency goes around giving coats to all the chronically homeless on the street, so they perpetually look 'well clothed'.

Or they may have physical hallucinations (feelings of things crawling under their skin) that make it impossible to wear warm clothes, so they'll take the coat, but not be able to keep wearing it.  Then ppl from the local agency will give them another coat...they don't usually have them for long, so always look like they have new clothes.

The more severely mentally ill a homeless person is, the more they may not be able to accept new clothing.   If they're in tatters or are wearing a winter coat in summer, you're probably looking at someone who is more severely ill.   Not necessarily a reason for concern except that untreated severe mental illness means not being able to defend yourself, dress safely, etc. 

The 'professional homeless' often learn to observe the severely mentally ill homeless on the street, and learn who is passive and won't fight back - they'll beat them up and take their clothes.   Shoes/boots are an especially hot commodity, they'll  get stolen while the person sleeps outside OR in the shelter.   So yeah, you may see people who have 'nice clothes' but there may be different reasons for that.

Quoting BNC1100:

.... I see the same people over and over on the corner wearing better clothes than I have, begging for money.

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