Repeat Rape Victim Suffers from Mental Illness on the Streets of Redding: ‘While my thighs cry … But nobody helps me’

Editor’s note: While’s policy is to not publish pieces by anonymous authors, we are making an exception with this post because of the sensitive personal nature between the author and the subject. We have confirmed the author’s identity, but have agreed to conceal it. 

The author writes about a young family member who suffers from a severe mental illness, someone the author recalls as a once-happy, healthy, well-adjusted girl; a straight-A student, a “beautiful being” – an artist.  Her mental condition presented itself in the young woman’s late teens.  Join me in welcoming this author to as we explore a difficult subject, some of which includes details some readers might find too graphic.  

I know the homeless are irritating. I get it. The drug use and the crime used to support it are beyond annoying.

But please humor me for a moment and allow me to give you a view that most don’t get. Someone close to me is a paranoid schizophrenic who has lived on the streets for two years. She is afraid of everything. Since she is an adult, treatment is up to her. But she doesn’t think she is ill. That’s the horrible Catch-22 of mental illness: Someone mentally ill usually doesn’t realize they are mentally ill, and our screwed-up laws in California won’t allow them to be committed/conserved for treatment, even if all evidence says they should.

Medication would make this person normal again, but since she is an adult, she must ask for it.

How will a sick person ask for something they don’t realize they need? Her life is hell. She has been locked in closets and tortured by people who are so evil that they think it’s okay to do such a thing. She is repeatedly raped, and used to try to report it, but she’s a paranoid schizophrenic, so who is going to believe her? How can a person be sure that what she’s saying is true?

I recently located her. Finally. Here is an exact word-for-word quote for you, which came straight from her mouth during the past two weeks: “When they rape me, I just ask them to be careful not to hurt me. Then I go stand on a corner while my thighs cry, waiting for someone to help me. But nobody helps me. They just ask if I’m okay. And when I say I need help they just keep walking.”

When she says, “While my thighs cry,” she means, “While the semen from my rapist drips down my legs.”

Her story is not unique. This happens to women on the streets all the time. And our mental health system, which could help them get into their right mind, is horribly broken. This system is supposed to work, but it does not. This person is in her early 20s. Her life could be changed by medication that she doesn’t think she needs; which she cannot be forced to take. She cannot be forced to take it because she has rights.

And you might believe in the system enough to think that if she was a danger to herself or others, she could be 5150’d, put into a facility, and medicated until she returned to her normal self. I thought that, too. I took her to the hospital right here in good ol’ Redding. She had decided it was time for help, but they made her wait eight hours. That is an eternity for a mentally ill person. She grew irritated and agitated and wanted to leave. I did everything in my power to prevent it. She got upset with me and starting kicking the crap out of me and tried to push me off the top floor of the parking structure. She was screaming that she would kill me and then kill herself. This was all caught on camera. Security was called. Her mother called and demanded that she be held, but this young woman is an adult, so her mother’s words were just “a request”.

There was NO ONE from Shasta County mental health present at the hospital. But her mother called them and asked if they could come to the hospital. They refused, but told the mother the precise words to say that would ensure the daughter could be held at least until morning for evaluation; to ask for the charge nurse, and let him or her know that the mother had spoken with Shasta County Mental Health, and someone there said the daughter had to be seen, and by law, she must be treated.

Her mother repeated those exact words and so did I, including the part where the law DEMANDED that she be held in such circumstances. We even showed the texts to the charge nurse that we’d received from the mental health professional — and read them word for word.

Guess what happened? Nothing. They didn’t hold her. Redding Police Department was called to try to force a 5150. They did not respond.

There are things that have happened to this person that I have to block from my mind because I just can’t handle thinking about them. Horrible, horrible things. Again, this is not unique.

By the way, do you know that meth used to be used to treat schizophrenia? That being the case, is it any wonder that the mentally ill love to use that drug? It really does make them feel better.

Yep, tweakers suck. Yep, I hate that drug. But it’s not black and white. When reality includes sleeping in the bike lane at night because it is close to the roadway and therefore makes a paranoid person feel a little safer from the regular rapes that have happened to her, when that is a person’s reality, and when meth provides relief from the reality, is it hard to see why meth is a go-to drug?

Is it funny to joke about the homeless? Sure, if you’re entirely heartless. I realize not many people see this side of things. Now you have no excuse. I don’t know the answer, but I know it’s not funny to make fun of the homeless. You have no idea what hell they live in.

p.s.: She’s pregnant with the child of a rapist, and happy about it, because she believes she’ll get to keep the baby, and that it will love her when nobody else does.

Funny? I don’t think so.

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18 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Not a happy little story to start off a Tuesday. Absolutely pitiful. Would LE have responded if there were more on-duty police? If so, that half-cent tax increase is a pittance compared to what this young woman is suffering. Is an eight-hour hospital wait due to overcrowding by uninsured people? If so, would national health care be an answer? Like the anonymous author, I don’t have an answer, but my heartstrings have been tugged by this well-written and tragic story.

  2. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    This is the exact person the Affordable Care Act is supposed to help. In Prescott, Arizona, reported in several articles by the Prescott Courier, over 200 sobering homes were using enablers to sign up the homeless on the ACA. After signing then these homeless, regardless of addictions or mental health, were sent to the sobering centers. Most were frauds but a few were actually doing good. The Courier said the ACA required no payment for the first 90 days and during that 90 days the frauds would charge the insurers for thousands of dollars for tests. The insurers finally refused to pay and now only legitimate sobering homes are being run in Prescott.
    Are there no sobering centers in Redding? The Courier highlighted how some of the sober homes brought in clients from as far away as New York. Has anyone taken the time to see if this woman could sign up for the ACA and get treatment?
    As a side note on how homeless women are treated. A women in Cheyenne robbed a bank and then waited outside for the police. It turned out that this woman was released from prison in Oregon and found her way to Cheyenne. She told how she was homeless and repeatedly raped. Her cure was to go back to prison where she felt safe.
    The LA times reported how many people felt paying more taxes to aid the homeless was alright. The problem was when they wanted to use the money for homeless shelters Nimbyism kicked in. Everybody wants to help the homeless, but in someone else’s neighborhood.

  3. Avatar Darcie Gore says:

    I remember when there were State hospitals for mentally ill. They needed an overhaul but instead Gov. Reagan closed them all and gave the counties the responsibility of caring for the chronically mentally ill. See how well that worked out. It is time that we have clean safe places for people who are unable to care for themselves, both temporarily and permanently. Criminals get better treatment than our chronically mentally ill.

    • Darcie, your sentence, ” Criminals get better treatment than our chronically mentally ill,” is a sad but true statement.

      • Avatar Linda Cooper says:

        I would add to your comment, that I recall a comment you made from an earlier article you wrote. That you felt it would be actually better (my words) to have state institutions for caring for children, than adoptive parents that don’t do so well. Just wow. That has always hung in there with me. Just wow. I’m somehow making a connection here.

        • You have a good memory. Yes, I wrote that, and I stand by it. I’ve seen too many people get into the foster-care business strictly for the money, and they don’t give two shits about the kids. I would rather see foster kids in a regulated, standardized home run by caring professionals, than being shuttled from one sub-standard foster parent to another.

    • Avatar Linda Cooper says:

      I am glad you wrote this. I too remember the homeless problem increasing after Gov. Reagan closed the state hospitals down. I have a vivid memory from high school, where my friend’s mother said this was going to cause major problems. The mother had needed help after a divorce. Try and keep sane if you can people, because really, I don’t see any help out there. Meanwhile, I guess we all do what we can on an individual aspect. Oh, and vote. Except that’s a challenge. The democrats don’t seem to explain “it” well. God bless America. (Am in a mood.)

  4. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:


    I’m not swearing.

  5. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    America seems forever trapped in the delusion that whatever we’re doing, it’s the best way to do it, because America. We could do far better with mental health (and healthcare in general) if we were willing to borrow strategies from Northern European countries that work far better by objective measures, and at less cost.

    But we don’t. Because America.

    • Avatar Ned Estill says:

      …and because multi-trillion dollar healthcare industry (and their lobbyists).

    • Avatar Linda Cooper says:

      I now believe that America has turned into not just a third world country, but a four world country. Whatever that means. I feel sad about this, I really do. Flash back to thirty years ago, and asking a young woman in Davis, California who was cutting my hair (she had tattoos), what she liked about traveling to Europe. She replied, while I will never have children, I just love that France has such regard for their children. They are well taken care of. They have grandmothers who dress them respectfully in hand knit sweaters. The children are well taken care of. Hum.

  6. Avatar Peggy Elwood says:

    We need to do better ..this is heartbreaking…as a child this homeless woman did not choose this life and mental happened to her. Let’s do better and try some compassionate programs for our mentally ill homeless.

  7. Avatar L.G. says:

    My word this is so difficult to read.
    Surely there are systematic solutions to be had right? Right??
    Good heavens this is so difficult to read.
    What is the Republican answer? What is the Democrat answer? Is there an answer?
    Oh my this is so difficult to read.
    Arrows of blame pointing every direction – County – City – State – Federal – who will take care of these children? Who??
    Oh bless me this is so difficult to read.
    The mentally ill must help themselves. They must see the light from the depths of their hell and pull, pull, pull themselves up…all by themselves…because no help is coming for them am I right?
    Oh for the love of God, this is so difficult to read.
    “Well then you take them into your home…” “I have already donated…””But what about…” “There’s nothing I can do…” Right. You’re right. Right?
    Ask yourself, is this difficult to read?

  8. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    The problem with adults is that you can’t tell them anything (they know everything) and you can’t make them do anything the don’t want to do. Real life experience at school and work may serve to enlighten most young people to the fact that life is not like a home where every one loves you (pays the bills and provides shelter and food) and a school where people work hard to give you skills to find your way in the world and do well. This plan doesn’t work with people with Schizophrenia. In my life time this disorder was considered a psychological disorder (an inability to face reality) as opposed to the biological disorder it is. The disease usually presents itself at a time when a young person becomes an adult. It is a horrible disease. From what I’ve learned, it appears in the same percentage in most cultures. The law has to change to protect these individuals. There are so many parents and family members of mentally ill, or mentally comprised young adults in this area who have had to navigate this horrible road. On friend used to put birth control pills in her daughter’s morning milk because she knew that any time her girl might run away to hang out with the friendly people at the park and not come home for a couple days. All federal, state and county agencies are following the law when dealing with mentally ill people. The law needs to change.

  9. Avatar Shelly Shively says:

    My God. I’ve noticed more young homeless, and especially women, these past months on Redding streets, or camped in parks. I wonder what their stories are, so young: runaways, or aged-out foster kids? What does this say about our society, with all our knowledge and advancements, that we turn a blind eye to someone as helpless as this young woman, or others afflicted by mental illness, whether psychological or biological.These people need professional care and compassion, not judgement and contempt. Could Redding be the living example of helping? How about a teaching hospital facility, where specially trained law enforcement could bring that population for evaluation and treatment, instead of the hospitals and jails.
    I’ll be forever haunted by this young woman’s story, and of her family, unable to keep her safe. As if the situation couldn’t get worse, she’s now pregnant from rape. Our community has shown, so often in its history, and especially lately, of our capacity for rallying when there is need. The thing about compassion and good ideas, is that one begets the other. I don’t know what it would take, other than starting with a need, and finding resources to fit that need.
    I heard on NPR a few years ago, of a city in Arizona, that developed a program based out of the problem of their law enforcement being strained by having to deal with mentally ill, or addicts on the streets. There was specific training for assessment, which changed the way they handled mentally ill or addicted people. I seem to remember that it was a special unit, even wearing t-shirts to signify that they were of that unit. Once the mentally ill or addict was assessed on the street by this officers, they would call ahead to a facility that was equipped and waiting for the individual. These seems like such a brilliant solution. The NPR story said that the city ended up saving money, instead of money wasted in the revolving door system of repeated catch and release.
    I’ll see if I can find the NPR story, and link it here.
    Thanks, anewscafe, for breaking the rule of anonymous writers, and having this person’s story put a face and soul to one of the scores of homeless, passed by every day.

  10. Avatar Katie Connaughton says:

    This was a really interesting interview about bipolar disorder and medication.

  11. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    There’s this. I recall being a teenager with a bi-polar or whatever it’s called mom. I called her/our doctor, and he said there was nothing he could do. She needed to ask for help. Herself. Okay.

  12. Avatar Denise Ohm says:

    I travel south 273 quite a bit. My drive by perespective is a homeless woman is being screamed at by her man du jour. She’s usually trying to carry all the sacks, her face swollen from crying. Can only imagine what life in the bushes must be.

    Many years ago I moonlighted as a cook in Shasta County Mental Health facility down on Breslauer Lane. As I recall there would be 10-20 people who would report in for services on weekend or holiday nights. At the time it made me feel good to know that for one night or so, they had a safe clean place. Looks like the value wasn’t there for others in control of purse strings.

    Takes your breath at times.