17 Absolutely Terrifying Situations People Experiencing Homelessness Have To Deal With

From an r/askreddit thread about scary things homeless people have dealt with while living on the street. These are sobering realities that will help us understand unhoused people and hopefully inspire us to do what we can to help.


Literal murders

“Not what I saw, what I heard, if that counts. For a while I slept in an empty warehouse, I’m in the UK, so it was a huge Victorian building with about six floors. I slept on the third or fourth floor, out of the way of ‘casual’ intruders (drunks and prostitutes used that space) and one night I heard a load of shouting and a female screaming from the ground floor. Now I was 16, a junkie and about 120lbs, so I wasn’t in any position to do much, but I crept down the steps to see what was happening. By the time I got there, the place was empty and the noise had stopped so I went back upstairs.

I found out the next day they found a body in the wasteland outside. Turns out the woman was a prostitute, they assumed her client stabbed her after a struggle and she’d made a run for it before he caught her and finished the job. Always wonder if I’d been able to help, but I’d have probably got stabbed too. :/”

“Lots of stabbings and rapes”

“Lots of stabbings and rapes. I was stalked by a gang one night on my way “home” from work. I still have no idea how i wasnt raped or mugged. Once i woke up suddenly to a not homeless man holding a huge knife staring at me inside the abandoned buildings basement i was sleeping in. Once he noticed i was awake he asked if i was russian. I said no and he said he was looking for a different girl, gave me 20 dollars and left.”

What meth does to people

“My dad.

He was really successful and owned his own company but then he started using and meth just took him out. Unfortunately he didn’t stop for a really long time, and he did end up losing his job, his wife, and in many ways his kids.

I remember not understanding what was going on because he was just digging up our backyard. And then he tore up all the carpet in the house because he said there were cameras. Over the next 15 years he lived in a storage unit. I’d come to visit him and find him naked and shivering.

He missed the teen/young adult years of me and my sisters, but he’s now been sober for four years. I’m really grateful. I don’t like to admit it, but at one point I’d started telling people my dad was dead. It feels like he came back to life.”

People try to abduct you

“Biggest thing (5’3 115lb) was how often people try to abduct you. That and how often people try to serve you tampered food. The teenagers trying to get clout by assaulting/”pranking” you is another one.

Food tampering: literal feces, obvious loogie, but the final straw was a box of cheezits that had a dead rat on top (they glued the box back together)

When you are a homeless person you are just predator bait.

All they need to lure you with is any basic need.”

Random stabbings

“I was just sleeping around where other guys in my city sleep, then just see some teens stabbing one of the homeless guys multiple times, ran away from there, never turned back.”


“Snow! I’m a big, scary dude so I never had trouble with people picking on me or whatever, in that sense the streets were safe to me, but seeing snow for the first time that year just made me cry and panic. It was too early for snow, I wasn’t ready for that type of cold and was hoping to be on my feet again before the winter came. Beautiful thing like snow just fucked me up in so many ways.”

“My stories sound fake”

“I saw a dude try to murder his girlfriend with a machete, like full on swing and barely miss and my heart was fucking pounding like I was sure I was about to witness a murder.

I also saw countless ODs and shit, saw a girl beaten to shit who had just been raped asking for help. Saw a dude get stabbed. Saw a big huge dude have a heart attack and die and the paramedics frantically trying to give him chest compressions and shit and he was just flopping around.

Saw a lot of shit honestly but those were the ones that come to mind as scaring the shit out of me the most. I have a million stories from those years and half sound fake cause they are so ridiculous.”

Molotov cocktails

“There is a drainage ditch in my area that the local homeless people tend to bed down in. A few years ago, when I found myself destitute, I spent one night down there. That night I witnessed a molotov get thrown into another dude’s spot which led to a huge fire that ran rampant through the area.”


“After a meal at a local shelter one night I fell asleep in a park. I hated being around there at night because some of the other homeless would rob you. One guy got knifed a week earlier an I needed to GTFO. So I started to make my way out of the area taking alleyways as not to attract the drunks who would throw shit at, beatup and generally harass the destitute. I heard a commotion and decided to investigate and saw this crazy animal of a man, naked from the waste down, on top of someone (I assume a woman) thrusting on top of her. Every couple of seconds he would stop to throw a punch. The woman was unconscious, completely limp and very bloody. I yelled out to him and he turned to look at me. I have seen a lot of bad things in my life but the look in his eyes was beyond animalistic. He was filthy but in the little light from the street lamps his eyes glowed with rage and insanity. Scared the shit out of me. So afraid that I took off. Ran to nearest payphone (1993) and dialed 911. I did not go back. I have felt like such a coward and have no idea what happened to either one. I truly hope shes ok and he is dead.”

Trying to escape the violence

“I’m currently homeless and this is why I stay out of homeless shelters and away from other homeless. Fist fights at 2am, loud arguments, people trying to get into your shit while you sleep. You don’t get sleep in those places anyway and it’s all risk with no benefit. When you own nothing, you can’t afford to lose the 2 shirts, pair of pants, 3 pair of socks, cellphone and phone charger. Lucky enough to have a cellphone with no service but workable with WiFi. Can’t lose it.

I couch surf atm, which has it’s risks, but overall it’s much safer than the shelters. Downside being I never know where I’ll be so finding work is near impossible. Almost had an apartment and work at one point, but roommate started hearing voices and kicked me out before I could be added to the lease. Previous roommate (two ago) that put me in the homeless situation also started hearing voices and straight up disappeared on my ass. I think I must drive people crazy or something. Stayed in my car for 9 months (I worked), and past 6 months been couch surfing (work when I can afford to).

At some point I’ll run out of couches and be forced into shelters and around other homeless and that scares the shit out of me. At some point I’ll have to devolve to becoming accustomed to living on the streets, doing anything to survive. If I don’t find someone willing to put me up til I can get back on my feet. Which won’t happen. Everyone who’s let me crash longer than one night has been a creep with no respect.”

Thrown over an overpass

“I was homeless in Seattle for many years. I’ve seen some horrible things ranging from bum fights that ended in one of them dead, to people next to the downtown Macy’s stepping over an overdosed dead body that they thought was just someone sleeping. But the worst thing was probably seeing this methed out drug deaer guy who, at the time, had a bad reputation already on the Hill, throw a 15 year old homeless teen girl over an overpass bridge onto the freeway. She was killed.”

The Pine Street Inn

“I was staying in a homeless shelter, that had a men’s side and a woman’s side. Most of the men were convicted sex offenders. In the 8 months I spent in that hell on earth, I was friends with 3 women who were raped by some of these men.

The truly scary thing? The women were actively discouraged from telling anyone what had happened – especially the police. If they filed a report with the police, they were permanently barred from the shelter.

That place (one of the most celebrated in my state, regularly has the mayor and governor drop by) is the most evil place on earth.”

Ask for help

“Honestly the first night really outside, everything is scary.

I’ve been homeless for about 4 months some years ago. At first I could stay with friends, but I didn’t want to overstay my welcome, I’d actually lie to them telling them I’ve got some place to go to.

Luckily in those 4 months I only had to really sleep outside for about 2 weeks.

The first scary thing was just finding where to sleep. Where people can’t see me and its relatively dry.

Then when I finally found places to sleep (1st was in a park between some bushes, 2nd was in a tiny playhouse in a public playground, 3d was under a bridge, and then again some nights in the park between bushes) I was constantly worried about people seeing me,.

The other scary thing was every single sound, a car drives by slowly (are they going to hurt me?) some drunks in the distance singing (if they see me they’ll definitely are going to fuck around with me and be idiots).

The next scary thing was the cold, I would only sleep very lightly for about 30mins at a time and wake up shivering.

I was 19, 1m80 (I think that’s about 6feet?) and 95kgs (uh, 190 pounds?) so not a small guy, and I was scared as hell. I imagine its so much worse for women.

My best advice would be; don’t be an idiot and ask for help!

Although it was extremely tempting, I didn’t abuse drugs or alcohol, I didn’t “look” homeless, I was just a big idiot thinking “I can fix this by myself” “I don’t want to impose on people” etc…

I was 19 back then, I’m 33 now and I’m happily married and we have a nice home.”

This shouldn’t happen in the west

“A woman giving birth at a bus terminal.”


“I lived in a van for a month or so when I was in college, and would sleep at the park. I didn’t necessarily see it but I heard it and it is burned into my mind forever. A group of the local hobos beat a guy near to death and they all raped his girlfriend/wife then beat her to death. I found a new park after that.”