U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

From the Inside Out: Efforts by Homeless Women to Disrupt Cycles of Crime and Violence

NCJ Number
Women and Criminal Justice Volume: 19 Issue: 3 Dated: July-September 2009 Pages: 217-234
Date Published
July 2009
18 pages

This study explored the struggles of homeless women to disrupt patterns of violence in their lives.


Results indicate that women caught up in cycles of crime and violence lack tools and resources for successful and lasting changes. Findings revealed experiences of frequent physical and sexual violence in childhood and adulthood. Even as children, the women had begun to recognize and identify damaging patterns of their lives. During adulthood, they continued to reflect on how they saw the cycle of violence emerging and struggled to challenge and resist it. During theses struggles many of the women described moments of recognition or action. The cycle of violence seemed to be a manageable and fixable explanation for the pervasiveness of victimization and abuse they experienced. As adults, they removed themselves or their families from violent environments and took stock of their own violent behaviors. These moments are significant for several reasons: first, they reinforce that these women actively want or pursue change; second, these moments signify how short-sighted the cycle of violence model is in providing a guide for lasting change. Narratives suggest that even a small amount of long-term assistance makes a difference in their abilities to successfully disrupt patterns. It is stated that if during critical junctures the women had at least received attention via intervention or services, their recognition of patterns early on would have been attached to opportunities for concrete and effective steps toward resistance and change. Data were collected from 20 women staying at 1 of 2 homeless centers in a Southeastern metropolitan area through in-depth qualitative interviews. References

Date Published: July 1, 2009