What Are Safe People?

When Deanna came back to Water Street, she sat back, watching everyone around her distrustfully. It was a massive step of faith to return to Water Street, knowing she had been a guest here before. Until then, life had taught her that maybe it’s better not to put your trust in people or even make new friends. Being married to an abusive addict will do that to you.

Stuck in this agonizing relationship, Deanna kept trying to save him, only to watch him turn around and treat her badly again. Which is part of what made developing trust here so difficult. Thankfully, Deanna didn’t give up on her first go around, and instead came back to learn more, still holding out hope for a better life… or at least the answers to some of her nagging questions. “Who am I? What’s my purpose? Why do I keep finding myself homeless?”

“I didn’t know God would answer my prayer through the Water Street Mission,” she says. “It’s always good to be open.”

— Deanna

Water Street Guest

Despite her doubt, she came to classes and tried to listen and read whatever was offered to her. She was struck by a discussion in one course on safe people and setting boundaries, two ideas she’d never heard of before. Her counselors and teachers began to show her how to navigate relationships in a healthier way and identify who was trustworthy and who was not. And then, she learned to set up clear boundaries with them. “You learn a lot about life, like how to set boundaries, how to stay away from unsafe people, “she says. “And it takes courage to set boundaries.”

Learning about unsafe people has had the beautiful effect of allowing Deanna to open up again. She’s implementing her newfound skills and realizing there are many here at Water Street, and in Lancaster, who are ready to love and accepter. She’s become more outgoing and social, loving to spend time with other guests and staff and describing Water Street as a “family,” unlike what she had growing up.

After living in fear, Deanna is learning to build valuable relationships again, so she can go forward free from those who were keeping her down. “I didn’t know God would answer my prayer through the Water Street Mission,” she says. “It’s always good to be open.”