What Happened to Her?

I saw a woman of amazing beauty today. Probably Ethiopian, light skin, high cheekbones, curly hair, big almond eyes. Now I know you are imagining a woman in a suit, maybe in a dress, walking with her head held high.

But no, this woman – apart from her beauty – was striking because she was clearly on strong drugs, dead look in her eyes, stained smelly clothes, wandering in the streets looking for something; meaning for life maybe?

“Normal” people will avoid such a woman. No, we don’t want to meddle in the business of drug addicts, the disabled, insane, alcoholics, homeless, crazy people. We like to keep our world clean, nice, to believe in the beauty of human nature. Yet the abnormal in our midst remind us that things go wrong. Abuse, trauma, rape, assault. All of these things have a profound impact on a human psyche, and it hurts my heart to see a fellow female in a condition that reminds me of how things could easily have turned out for me.

Substances ease the pain. Alcohol numbs the mind, weed makes you happy. Whatever you have gone through, these things will allow you to momentarily be okay, and that is the feeling survivors get hooked on. Feeling high, for life is low. Yet people don’t understand; they see a problem person and blame the individual. No one looks beyond appearances and asks, “what happened to her?”

People don’t allow for behaviour arising from abuse, yet it is a well-known fact that survivors suffer from alcohol and drug abuse and mental illness. It makes me so sad to know that maybe this woman has endured something tragic, yet she is left alone to roam around North London streets like an unwanted pet after Christmas.

So next time you see someone troubled on your way to work, just ask yourself, “what happened to them?”

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