Archive | December 2009

Nichelle Mitchem Poses the Important Question, “Is Every House A Home?”

For many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Despite concerted efforts to eradicate domestic violence, data indicates that intimate partner violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless persons. Social science research indicates that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Indigent women are more vulnerable.

On average, more than three women a day are murdered by their intimate partners in our country . Annually, women experience an estimated 2 million women injuries resulting from an abusive relationship. Women who are between the ages of 20-24 years old are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. Research indicates that most incidents of domestic violence are not reported to the police. The dearth of safe, decent, affordable housing causes many poor women to confront the unenviable choice of homelessness or remaining in a home plagued by violence and turmoil resulting from domestic violence.

Over 15 million children in our nation live in homes where there has been at least one incident of domestic violence in the past year, and seven million children live in families where severe partner violence has occurred. Data indicates that 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the home. Growing up in abusive household can pose a threat to not only the child’s physical health but his mental health as well.

Research indicates that the non-abusive parent is often one the most important protective factors in the lives of children who witness domestic violence. All women, children, and men have the right to live in a safe environment and to conduct their lives without emotional, physical or sexual abuse or the fear of abuse.

Often, one of the greatest concerns for battered women is the affect of living in a violent home environment on children. In some instances, the domestic becomes so severe that women with children leave their homes without a place to go. Research indicates that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness. In a 2007 report by the United States Conference of Mayors, thirty-nine percent of the city leaders who were surveyed identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness among households with children.

Victims of domestic violence experience difficulty finding housing. There simply are not sufficient beds to house all the battered women and their children seeking shelter. The U.S. Conference of Mayors report indicated that city leaders turn persons experiencing homelessness away from shelters and transitional housing because of lack of capacity all or some of the time. Not only do battered women experience challenges in securing a bed in a shelter, they also often have difficulty securing a safe, decent, affordable apartment.

Domestic violence thrives on apathy. It can be eradicated with an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action. How you can help? Advocate for increased funding for domestic violence programs and public housing.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art