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 abusive partners 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. Survivors of domestic violence 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. Their partners may prevent them 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.
Dating abuse is a big problem in the U.S. One in 3 teens will experience dating violence, and 1 in 5 will experience severe physical violence from a dating partner. The numbers are even higher for LGBTQ youth. Young people who experience dating violence are more likely than their peers to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, engage in unhealthy or antisocial behaviors, and think about suicide.
The easiest way to stop dating or domestic violence is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Everyone can help prevent violence, including parents, teachers, clergy, coaches, friends, and family.
We put together three things you can do to help prevent dating violence.
A year ago, survivors seeking mental health support from LifeWire had several options—one on one therapy, music therapy, and support groups. When the pandemic closed LifeWire’s office, our mental health therapists immediately adapted to working with survivors online or by phone. The shift has come with its challenges and benefits for survivors.
Many survivors who reach out for therapy and support still live in homes that are not safe places. Some survivors have had to postpone therapy because they lacked safe spaces to talk. Therapists brainstorm with survivors about how and where to hold virtual sessions. For survivors, that can mean having a phone call instead of a video chat, sitting in their car instead of their home, or shifting their session to a time when they have the most privacy.
Virtual sessions can make it harder for survivors and therapists to build trust and safety. In-person sessions make it easier for the therapist and survivor to read each other’s facial and body language. They’re also held in a benign location away from the places where violence occurs. Technology can also be an issue, whether it’s accessing stable WI-FI or learning how to use new software.
Despite these challenges, remote therapy sessions and groups have added benefits. Transportation is no longer a barrier to making an appointment. Survivors also don’t have to worry about finding childcare. Most importantly, remote therapy helps survivors mitigate the isolation of coping with domestic violence and COVID-19.
When people think about domestic abuse, most people think about verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. Few people think about economic or financial abuse. Economic abuse is one of the most common forms of abuse, occurring in 99% of domestic violence situations.
Economic abuse occurs when one partner controls another’s ability to be financially independent. The lack of financial control or resources often prevents survivors from leaving.