Housing Is Safety

This post is written by Genese Jones-Torrence, Vice President of Crisis Services at SafeNest: Temporary Assistance for Domestic Crisis.

We’ve all heard the saying that “home is where the heart is,” but have we ever thought about what else a home should be?

A home is supposed to be a safe place — a place with family, friends, and all the essentials of life.

Unfortunately for victims of domestic violence, home can become a place of isolation and escalating abuse. Many victims, mainly women and children, are displaced every year because they are in immediate danger. According to a study cited by Safe Housing Partnerships (2016), 80% of the homeless women and children surveyed had experienced domestic violence. That is a sobering reality, but there is something we all can do to address the intersection of homelessness and domestic violence. 

As the VP of Crisis Services for Nevada’s largest domestic violence serving nonprofit agency, I am honored to lead operations for a 24-hour hotline and confidential emergency shelter. What I have found is that after victims have attained safety and had a period of respite, the next step is goal-setting for a promising future. Almost every person we serve shares one critical goal: to have a place of their own. A place where they, and in some instances children, can live positive, independent lives without the threat of violence.

To that end, those of us working within the shelter have realized that housing is safety! Having a place to call one’s own, where they are in control of their own choices, is safety.

A Call to Action

As we commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness month in October, I hope that we all will commit to doing more to support survivors of domestic abuse.

  • On an individual level, agencies should consider adopting a DV Housing First model to support survivors in identifying affordable housing options.
  • On a community level, the onus is on all stakeholders and advocates to demand affordable housing in our communities. More and more families are being priced out of the rental market, and that further increases their vulnerability.

I hope we will all commit to raising our voices and amplifying the voices of those on the margins. In doing so, I hope that we commit to listening to those impacted by domestic violence, and understanding their needs.

Together we all can help survivors of domestic violence move from crisis to confidence and into their own homes.