The intersection of homelessness and domestic violence is the connection of two extraordinarily serious social issues facing communities. Survivors fleeing abusive relationships often must leave their homes, with no other available housing options. Advocates within this field consistently see women and families become homeless as a direct result of domestic violence, and this, in turn, increases the risks for survivors experiencing abuse.
Survivors face numerous barriers to safety on a daily basis and are often trapped between experiencing continued violence or homelessness. Abusers use control tactics to isolate the survivor from their support network(s), limit their access to finances, employment, or education, cut them off from community resources, and create a constant state of fear. An abuser’s use of power and control can create barriers to accessible housing for the survivor. Abusers will often destroy a survivor’s credit or rental history by generating debt in the survivor’s name or defaulting on bills that have the survivor’s name listed on them, which then makes it increasingly more difficult to obtain a lease. Survivors may also experience lack of steady employment, resulting from missing work due to violence or being fired due to the abuser’s stalking/harassing behaviors. Many survivors also face housing discrimination when landlords evict them due to repeated police presence at the apartment or property damage caused by the abuser. Abusers may also cause a survivor to lose subsidized or other affordable housing by violating the voucher requirements or rental agreement. These barriers are further compounded for people who experience additional forms of oppression, such as people of color, the LGBTQ community, First Nations people, immigrants, persons with disabilities, and individuals experiencing poverty. Folks with children also face additional risks. With a lack of resources, survivors are often forced to choose between continued violence and not knowing where their child’s shelter and next meal will come from.
It is imperative for communities to recognize the intersection of homelessness and domestic violence and join in the fight to combat both these forms of oppression. Community partners make our work at Denton County Friends of the Family possible. We would not be able to provide safety, support, and housing for survivors without your continued help. Below are ways that you can get involved to help our community.
Written By: Taylor Cameron, MS, LPC, NCC