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Homeless people share their life stories: Rebecca, Andrew, Elle, Melissa and sk8r rat.

Homeless People - Elle's Story

Elle was fourteen when she arrived in Kings Cross, having run away from home somewhere in rural New South Wales.

Within days Elle came to the attention of a drug dealer who promptly set in play a plan to take advantage of her.

For around two weeks he supplied her with free drugs, saying she could pay him back at a later date. He showed her how to shoot-up and supplied her on a daily basis.

The aim was to get her hooked, after using heroin for two weeks Elle was well and truly dependent, both on the drug and him as the supplier of her fix.

He also provided her protection from other dealers and people on the street who would have raped her. What did this cost? Well he had his way whenever he wanted it. She was doped up and at his disposal whenever he wanted it.

When he was sure she had used a significant dollar value of drugs to constitute a significant debt, and was convinced the drug itself had a complete hold on her he delivered his ultimatum:

Pay back the debt (well over a thousand dollars) in three days,
or go to work in a brothel as a prostitute to work off the debt
with brothel staff and patrons.

Fortunately for Elle, he wasn't the only one whose eye she had caught. Numerous homeless people had warned her about the path she was going down.

She was warned not to use drugs, not to build up a debt to a drug dealer. But at the naive age of 14 and not knowing the gravity of her situation, she had ignored them.

When she was high, all her worries slipped away. She was happy again and felt free from the emotional pain of her past. The sex was bearable as she was stoned, and it was only one guy, not anyone and everyone that wanted a piece of her.

Elle had met a guy who could make the pain go away and keep her safe from other monsters. She fell hook line and sinker for his trickery.

When given the ultimatum she was also told, that if she did not pay back the money or go to work in the brothel... her throat would be cut.

Fearing for her life and not knowing what to do she turned to some of the homeless people who had warned her.

They knew, given the particular drug dealer involved that the threat on her life was very serious and there was no way out.

Think what you will about homeless people, about people who use drugs and about people who do crime… but over the following three days a small group of homeless people raised the money needed to pay off Elle's debt through 'the commerce of the street.'

There was no point approaching charities for help, they would not pay money to a drug dealer. Informing the Police was not an option, as 'dogging' someone in on the streets is a death sentence itself.

So they paid off her debt with money
that had been stolen, money that had
been made selling drugs and money
that had been made from prostitution.

It was time for a new ultimatum from the homeless people who had paid off her debt. Elle was taken to the train station and given money for a train.

They informed her that if she was ever seen in Kings Cross again she would be beaten within an inch of her life, then, after time in hospital if she returned; again she would be beaten within an inch of her life.

"Take the chance you have been given and never ever come back."

At the age of fourteen, Elle was considered too young by the homeless to be forced by a drug dealer into prostitution.

When I heard about Elle's situation and what was being done in response to the problem by homeless people I was not surprised at all.

In fact I believe it typifies quite well the fact that homeless people don't want to see more young people sucked into the life of drugs and prostitution and are willing to get involved to stop it happening.

The offer of free drugs should ring very loud alarm bells for any young person, homeless or not, because in the drug world and on the streets… nothing comes for free.

Stupidly, in the process of getting to know the dealer, Elle had given her real name and said where her parents lived.

I've moved homeless people interstate when their life is at risk on the streets in one city or another, but when the predator knows exactly who you are and where your family lives there isn't much point trying to run.

Some women in domestic violence situations face a similar reality.

For those whose lives are at risk tonight, either through domestic violence or through the dangers of life on the streets, please take a moment to appreciate the security you enjoy and the personal freedom we all take for granted.

As for Elle... we hope for her future and pray for her as the journey continues.

Dominic Mapstone B.Soc.Wk
Rebeccas Community
dominic dot mapstone at gmail dot com