Women who are exposed to violence risk becoming homeless

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Homelessness is often the result of an interplay between several factors, of which violence is just one of many risk factors. Violence multiplies a woman’s risk of falling into homelessness because violence typically starts a chain reaction in many other areas of life, which may lead to exclusion and homelessness.

It is well documented that violence against women has important implications for women’s health, housing, employment, economy and legal rights. This has been studied both in Denmark and many other countries. However, even though the problem is well documented, the conclusions of the research has not yet led to legislation or initiatives that effectively can prevent and curb violence against women.

Denmark has a noteworthy first place when it comes to violence against women in the EU. This appears from a study by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights published in March 2014. 52% of the Danish women who participated in the survey stated, they had experienced physical or sexual violence, or both. The average number in the EU was 33%.

Violence and sexual abuse against women are also described in the study SUSY 2000 (Sundheds- og sygelighedsundersøgelsen, National Health Survey), conducted by the National Institute of Public Health. Data was conducted with the participation of 16,558 people. This study shows that more women than men have been a subject to sexual abuse as child and/or adult. 8.1% women and 1.6% men reported on sexual abuse in childhood, while 5.9% of the women and 0,5% of the men between the age of 25-44 years old stated that they have been forced to or attempted forced to sexual activity in their adulthood.

Women who are victims of violence are obviously marked by the damage, the perpetrator has caused them, but their lack of well-being, depression, headaches and stomach problems can also create a long-term load on these women (SUSY 2000).

The SUSY 2000 survey also shows that the abused women often have a close relation to the perpetrator. In 20% of the cases, the perpetrator was a current or former spouse or boyfriend. The study ‘Violence in intimate relationships’ from the National Institute of Public Health, 2012, states that 26,000 Danish women annually are exposed to domestic violence.

In some cases domestic violence leads to murder or violence resulting in death. The report, ‘Killing in Denmark 2008 – 2011’, 2014 by the Ministry of Justice Research Office, shows that in cases of murder committed by current or former partner, 4 out of 5 victims are women. In the period 2008-2011, 38 women have been killed, by a current or former partner.

Women who are victims of violence risk losing their job.
A Norwegian study, referred to in the journal 3F in December 2014, shows that in the group of violated women surveyed, only 42% of them had a job. The study also shows that almost a third of these battered women, have lost their jobs because of the violence. Each woman pays a high and unacceptable price for the violent assault. The National Institute for Public Health has stated that violence against women annually costs the state more than 1 billion kr. This is moreover, a high and unacceptable price for the society.

So we see that women that are victims of violence suffer massively in all areas of life, which we know can lead to homelessness: they have poor health and they lose their jobs, the economy and often dwelling if they flee from partner.
They belong to a high-risk group because they simultaneously and in a very short time become exposed to multiple risk factors for homelessness. However, awareness of women’s particular vulnerability and many risk factors, has remained tacit knowledge. The problem has only been shared and discussed in narrow professional circles.

For some women the violence and harassment start in childhood. They belong to another high-risk group because early childhood is exposed to an extreme susceptibility to homelessness.

We know, from among other, Danish research within this field, that the psychosocial stress and neglect in childhood are important markers for a marginalized existence as an adult. Preben Brandt’s thesis from 1992 ‘About younger homeless in Copenhagen’ shows that homeless women are parti

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