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The Hidden Truth – Violence in the Life of Homeless Women

Domestic violence (DV) is a serious threat that concerns women all across the globe. With the growing pandemic, this issue is even more prevalent as these women find themselves trapped in the house with an abuser and no means of getting help. This pandemic has also exacerbated many risk factors for DV. Joblessness, poor neighbourhood cohesion, and low social capital are all driving forces that lead to severe DV, whether physical or mental. Women are often forced to flee their abusive partners in the hopes of saving themselves and their children. Though successful in escaping, these women must now face the struggle of finding adequate housing and are left stranded on the streets with no place to live. As COVID-19 continues to worsen, shelters are also unable to accept individuals looking for a safe haven.

Despite the struggles of accommodating individuals, over 6000 women and children sleep in shelters on any given night as they feel unsafe at home. This figure only sheds light on “visibly” homeless women who go out and seek shelter at emergency services. In the dark are the “hidden” homeless women who seek shelter with family or friends. Although these women have a roof over their head, the lack of financial stability poses a threat for potential homelessness as there is no security in their current housing situation. Abusers often intentionally destroy their victim’s financial stability so they are unable to leave, or ensure the women return to them should they leave. This adds to the struggle of providing for themselves and potentially their children as they are unable to stay financially independent. Research has also found that 80% of mothers currently experiencing homelessness have previously experienced domestic violence. In addition, 1 in 4 homeless women claim that DV is the root cause of their situation.

As a member of the community, it is important that we do our part in helping these women. There are several foundations, such as the Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF), that work to provide services such as emergency shelters, help in rebuilding life after abuse, and crisis support. CWF also emphasizes healthy relationship education in teens to avoid such situations from arising in the future. The horrific statistics necessitate the need to support such foundations in achieving their goals.

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