The Challenge to Survive: Trauma, Violence and Identity in the Lived Experience of Homeless Women

Holly Price, Emily Glorney

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To understand how females who had recently been street homeless made sense of their lived experience, seven women engaged in semi-structured interviews. This study provides an insight into the complexities of the gendered homeless experience, whilst using theories of trauma and victimisation to propose a new approach to understanding the cycle of female homelessness. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach was chosen to explore the phenomenon of female homelessness. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a small homogenous sample of women recruited in a city in the south of England. Two super-ordinate themes emerged: Victimisation and Trauma, and The Group and the Individual. In the male-dominated world of homelessness, women were caught in a cycle of multiple traumatic loss, compounded by pervasive gender-based violence, struggles in identity, and systematic control. Gendered, trauma-informed women’s homelessness services are required.
Findings demonstrate the desperate need for an expansion in female-only homelessness services. The lived experience of the participants add to an evidence base which is vital to inform effective trauma-informed gendered service provision. Homelessness policies draw principally on the prevalent literature on men; UK research with women is lacking. This study gives voice to a hidden population, using the lived experience of women to suggest a new model of female homelessness.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Forensic Practice
Early online date13 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Sept 2022

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