229918 Violence in the lives of homeless women

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 1:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Karin Eyrich-Garg, PhD, MPE, LCSW , School of Social Work, Department of Public Health, and Department of Geography and Urban Studies, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Cheryl Hyde, PhD , School of Social Work, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Sarah Jacobson, MA , Department of Sociology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Media accounts of violence against homeless individuals usually focus on seemingly random attacks on men living on the streets. Results from a multi-method study on the social networks of homeless persons (N = 100), suggest, however, that violence within and among the homeless is a gendered phenomenon. Homeless women, much like their non-homeless counterparts, are more vulnerable to and likely to be victimized by men they know. And, the violence is more likely to be sexual in nature as compared to the physical assaults against men. This paper provides an in-depth qualitative examination of violence in the lives of 26 homeless women (interviewed as part of the aforementioned study). Using the analytical induction method, 3 broad themes emerged. First, violence as a precipitating factor in women becoming homeless is discussed; specifically, women fleeing domestic violence situations. Second, once homeless, the extent to which these women are victims of sexual coercion and violence is examined, with situations running the gamut from trading sexual favors for protection to partner assault to rape. Third, responses and coping strategies to violence employed by these women are delineated, with prayer and seeking assistance from men as the preferred actions. Descriptive statistics on the entire study's sample provide the context for this qualitative analysis. In keeping with the conference theme of social justice, the authors consider what intervention strategies need to be developed by the homeless and gender violence service communities in order to better attend to the needs of these vulnerable women.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how the violence women face prior to experiencing homelessness may make them more vulnerable to violence once they become homeless. 2. Explain how the violence homeless women face is qualitatively different from the violence homeless men face. 3. Articulate common coping mechanisms homeless women employ to protect themselves from and to deal with the violence they experience. 4. Explicate intervention strategies the community (homeless women and service providers) may consider implementing to support this vulnerable population.

Keywords: Homelessness, Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I conduct research with (and have practice experience with) homeless populations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.