Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. Survivors of domestic violence are four times more likely to experience housing instability than people who haven’t experienced abuse.
Beginning in 2009, LifeWire participated in a three-year pilot project called Domestic Violence Housing First. The goal was to get survivors into stable housing as quickly as possible and then provide them with the support they needed to rebuild their lives. The pilot was wildly successful. Eighteen months after entering the program, 96 percent of participants had stable housing. Today, countless other organizations across the country have adopted the DV Housing First model.
Human trafficking, like domestic violence, is about power and control. It occurs when one person compels or coerces another to engage in forced labor or paid sex work. For some survivors, human trafficking and domestic violence can be overlapping experiences.
Trafficking and domestic violence can overlap
Traffickers can be married to or in an intimate relationship with the people they traffic. In some cases, the trafficker begins the relationship under false pretenses explicitly to exploit their partner, most often sexually. Other relationships may devolve into human trafficking and domestic violence over time. Traffickers use tactics like other abusers to control their partner, including isolation, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and exploration, financial abuse, threatening family, physical abuse, and withholding food, transportation, or immigration paperwork. Sex traffickers may intentionally impregnate their partners so they can use the threat of separation or violence as another form of control. Immigrant survivors may face additional threats because of the language barrier, immigration status, and fear of deportation.
The ‘domestic’ part of domestic violence is misleading. While abuse regularly occurs at home, it impacts all other aspects of a survivor’s life—including work. Domestic violence survivors lose nearly 8 million days of paid work each year in the U.S. That’s the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs.
Survivors miss work for many reasons. DV-related injuries can make it difficult to work. Abusers may prevent survivors from getting to work by hiding their keys, damaging their car, or refusing to give them a ride or bus fare. Leaving an abusive relationship is also time-consuming. Survivors need to take time out of their day to find new housing, meet with an advocate, or navigate the legal system.
Violence against people with disabilities is a significant and overlooked issue. People with disabilities tend to experience more severe intimate partner abuse for longer periods. They are more vulnerable to prolonged abuse because they are often isolated from community, reliant on abusers for care, and face high barriers to getting help.
Women with disabilities are 40% more likely to experience domestic violence, while LGBTQ survivors with disabilities are two times more likely to be isolated by their abusive partner, three times more likely to be stalked, and four times more likely to experience financial abuse. These numbers are especially troubling, given that nearly one in four Americans has a disability.
Our hearts go out to the families of the eight people, including six Asian women, who were murdered in Atlanta, Georgia, during Tuesday night’s terrorist attack. Our thoughts are also with Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities across the country and locally who recently have been the repeated target of violence and racism.
All violence and oppression are connected. We condemn the anti-Asian hate crimes in Atlanta and closer to home in South Seattle and Renton.