The Experience of Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women: A Research Report

Jana L. Jasinski, Jennifer K. Wesely, Elizabeth Mustaine, and James D. Wright

November 2005

Studies investigating the experience of violence by homeless women date to the mid 1980’s, but most prior research has been more concerned with establishing the face of violence committed against these women than in exploring the risk factors responsible for it. This multi-site statewide study examined the experience of violence among 800 homeless women living in one of four cities in Florida and a comparison sample of approximately 100 men. A significant number of women were victimized in their lifetime, and almost one-quarter of the women indicated that violence was one, if not the main reason, they were homeless. In fact, almost one-third of the sample of women indicated they had left a childhood home due to violence. The results of the multivariate analysis indicated that childhood violence significantly increased the risk for adult victimization net of all other factors in the model. In addition, other risk factors included current alcohol use, being divorced or separated, a greater number of children, number of times homeless, and depression. Researchers conclude that homeless women are a vulnerable population with childhood violence at the crux of this vulnerability. 

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