A photo of a park bench.
Bobby McKay/Flickr

All of us want love and to feel special. People experiencing homelessness are no different, for the most part.

Yet it is possible to meet a person and think that he or she cares about you when in fact they do not.

Suppose you were homeless and met a guy who seemed so nice: a good guy to date. He could say that sometimes he does not stay in a shelter, but lives with a relative in a suburb. He could say that his relative and her neighbor basically do not like homeless people. At first he could seem so thoughtful and like he might be falling in love with you. You’d sometimes wait and wait for him when he was expected to show up.

In reality, he could believe that you are inferior to him. And that assessment is the seed of physical and psychological violence toward you. Eventually you could be afraid to go to the shelter that had been your temporary home and now find that you are afraid to be found there by him. Now you must find another shelter.

Hopefully, the police would be able to help you, but you live on the street and you may not even have the man’s correct name.

Hopefully the police would not be involved if an as-yet-unidentified man is found shot or stabbed while apparently sleeping in a park. Because what if you did it. You were tired of being harassed and afraid.

This man could have told you that during the weekday he was looking for work and you thought he was drinking and drugging a lot because his search for employment was unsuccessful.

What if the truth, though, was that he was employed and had a spacious and attractive apartment in one of the suburbs, or a nearby city? He only came to the shelter sometimes on the weekend. His presence there was not what he may have told you. He may simply have been “going slumming.”