In Cambridge, a woman named Kristin sits down on a stone bench to talk about a common, but rarely discussed injury during the opioid epidemic: rape.
We’ve agreed to use just Kristin’s first name because she’s a victim of this crime. Kristin says she, like many women who live on the streets, cope with the daily fear of an attack that they are too sedated to fend off — or of waking up to find their pants pulled down, bruises and other signs of an assault.
It’s an assault active drug users often don’t report out of shame, distrust of police or fear they’ll be labeled a “cop caller” and have trouble buying heroin. It’s an injury women say they can’t figure out how to prevent. And it’s one few doctors think to ask about, and thus do not treat.
The road to trouble starts many mornings, says Kristin, when she wakes up, sick and desperate for heroin but afraid to shoplift, sell the goods, and seek a dealer on her own. So she finds a male buddy, someone she calls a running partner.