Another installment of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC.
I came across Rachel as she was sitting on the sidewalk on Massachusetts Ave. in front of Union Station in Washington, DC. She had a paper cup in front of her with a hand drawn sign inscribed with the simple words, “please help.” Her cup was empty despite this being a very busy area with workers headed to Capitol Hill. I noticed that Rachel’s arm was bandaged as well as being covered with old horizontal scars from previous self inflicted cuttings. She noticed my looking and said, “it’s problem I have, cutting myself to relieve stress.” She showed me her other arm also covered with scars and some fresh cuts. Rachel is no stranger to psychiatric care and hospital emergency rooms, although she is not currently involved with any type of treatment. Rachel has been on the streets for about three years and according to her has never been in trouble with the police or involved with any social service organizations. Clearly there are things about herself that she is not willing to share. She was willing to have this photograph taken in exchange for a few dollars. Rachel has a multitude of problems many of which are made worse by her homelessness. Her being invisible to passersby doesn’t help much either.