"As soon as we moved into this house, you think you can have your way. You are my wife and I tell you what you can do and what you can't do." This kind of statement is typical of what a battered woman knows to be the only truth in her household. Domestic violence is greatly on the rise and is one of the leading causes of homelessness among women in today's society.
Rather than approach domestic violence as a direct cause of homelessness, one might hope to understand how such violence could help create the circumstances that might make a woman more susceptible to homelessness. Domestic violence and poverty may intersect with other issues to produce the circumstances that often leave women no other choice but to seek temporary shelter for the short-term, and therefore remain precariously housed.
Homelessness is defined as a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night time residence, and has a primary night time residence that is:
A) Supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations.
B) An institution that provides temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized
C) A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
(Stewart B. McKinney Act, 42 U.S.C.; 11301, et seq. (1994).
According to the McKinney Act (1994), this definition usually includes those people who face imminent eviction form their current form of shelter.
Domestic violence, or battering, is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. The batterer uses acts of violence and a series of behaviors, including intimidation, threats, psychological abuse, and isolation to coerce and control the other person. (Somers, 1992).
When most women are in a dangerous situation where domestic violence of some sort is occurring, they are being victimized. The impact of divorce, battering, and other family disruptions in combination with economic insecurity and primary responsibility for their children lead many women towards homelessness. It is believed that half of all homeless women have been a victim of some form of domestic violence, based on self-reporting and observations of various programs staffers. (National Research Council, 1996). However, the numbers of homeless domestic violence victims may be underestimated because some victims are reluctant to self-report. Homeless women seldom view their abuse as their primary problem and may not reveal that they are victims. In some cases, if a woman reports that she is a victim of domestic violence, a homeless shelter may refuse to accept her for security reasons. Most shelters do not offer services to women unless they conform to the criteria that distinctly makes them part of the particular group the shelter program targets. Programs can be specifically geared towards battered, homeless women and have been a great success...