Homelessness, Hunger, and Intimate Partner Violence

Last week, from November 13th to 21st, we recognized Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. This week resembles a time to be aware, educate others on, and strive to address the vulnerabilities that people living in homelessness face. One important intersectionality to recognize is the women experiencing domestic violence and homelessness.


Intersectionality is an interconnected and overlapping system with different populations experiencing discrimination or disadvantage. Meaning, that those who are homeless are vulnerable to experiencing domestic violence and those who have experienced domestic violence are more likely to experience homelessness. More than one third of survivors fleeing from domestic violence become homeless immediately upon fleeing (Baker et all., 2003). The alternative of homelessness can be the biggest barrier for a survivor trying to leave a relationship with an abuser. Being faced with the uncertainty of living on the streets or the stigma associated with bringing your family to a homeless shelter has left survivors to continue experiencing abuse. Stigma associated with survivors of domestic violence adds additional barriers. A study from 2005 found that 28% of landlords in New York City would out right refuse to rent or not follow up with a prospective tenant who had experienced domestic violence (Women’s Right’s Project, 2016).


As known in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, physiological needs are the foundation of any person’s wellbeing. Safe, stable access to housing, food, and sleep is the only way to reach higher goals of love, confidence, achievement, and purpose. Healing from traumatic domestic violence can, and will, only begin once survivors are able to attain a physically safe home where they can live without hunger, homelessness, or abuse.


One study from 2003 found that when asked the question ‘what resources do women need?’ survivors of domestic violence and homelessness called for additional emergency housing grants, more safehouse shelters, childcare support, and access to financial and education resources (Baker et al.) DASACC’s safehouse strives to foster a supportive, safe, confidential, and accessible resource for those who would face homelessness upon leaving their abuser. Our mission is to empower survivors to reaching financial, housing, and physical stability in assisting them to get their needs met. We work everyday to de-stigmatize asking for help, no matter the survivor’s experience. With the addition of our housing program in 2020, DASACC also assists survivors in need of that first step towards securing independent housing.


DASACC is providing Thanksgiving meals to families within our care this holiday season to do our part in supporting survivors. Our outreach office has a stocked food pantry for survivors in need, with no questions asked. We continue to remain accessible via our 24/7 hotline and 24/7 crisis response teams. Our regular services include counseling, case management, legal advocacy, housing support, and community outreach.


If you or someone you know if being hurt, please call our hotline at (908) 453-4181, or chat online with us at www.dasacc.org/web-chat, or you can call the national hotline for domestic violence at (800) 788-SAFE.


If you or someone you know if being discriminated against within housing due to experiencing domestic violence, you can learn more about your rights through ACLU here: https://www.aclu.org/issues/womens-rights or through NJCEDV here: https://njcedv.org/our_work/social-justice/.


Written by Monika Connell, LSW, Clinical Services Associate Manager.


References

1. Join the movement to end hunger and homelessness. Hunger Homelessness Awareness Week. (2018). Retrieved November 2021, from https://hhweek.org/.

2. Baker, C.K., Cook, S.L., & Norris, F.H. (2003). Domestic violence and housing problems: A contextual analysis of women’s help-seeking, received informal support, and formal system response. Violence Against Women, 9, 754-783.

3. Women's Rights Project. (2016). Domestic violence and homelessness. American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved November 2021, from https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/dvhomelessness032106.pdf.

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