homelessness, violence against women, risk factors for victimization
Much of the existing research on violence against homeless women has concluded that homeless women are particularly vulnerable to violence and experience victimization at rates often exceeding the rates of housed women. Little research, however, has focused upon the specific risk factors that expose homeless women to physical assault, rape, and stalking. Utilizing a sample of 737 homeless women from the Florida cities of Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami, this study investigated the risk factors for experiencing adult personal victimization. The characteristics of homelessness, demographics, drug and alcohol use, subsistence activities, childhood victimization, mental health status, and criminal activities were examined as predictors of violence. The results indicate that over three-quarters of the sample had experienced violence, physical, sexual, or stalking, as adults. Consistent with prior research, childhood sexual abuse and time spent in jail or prison were significant predictors of violence. However, contrary to prior research, severe childhood physical abuse did not predict adult violence. Rather, the key childhood predictors of adult violence appear to center upon abuse that is primarily emotional in nature. Also contrary to prior research, the excessive use of alcohol or illicit drugs and engaging in risky subsistence activities did not predict violence. The results also imply that the women's experiences of violence may precipitate their episodes of homelessness, indicating that the violence is a cause of their homelessness. Violence against women continues to be a significant social problem particularly among especially vulnerable populations such as homeless women. Such violence deserves the attention of service providers such as healthcare workers, social services, and criminal justice systems.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Sciences
Sociology and Anthropology
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Weichsel, Rebecca Michelle, "Risk Factors For Adult Victimization Among Florida's Homeless Women" (2005). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 515.