I dont agree that she could not have made it here homeless. America is very big and it depends on where you go. Most homeless people either have a knife for protection or know how to make weapons quickly out of breaking a bottle etc. Train riders usually have...I forget what they are called: a big train lock inside their skank (hanky) which you then swing at attacker.
Women actually traditionally reach for weapons in an attack faster than males due to their instinctively knowing they cannot fight with muscle. Maybe Europe is just more used to poverty due to thousands of years of it.