‘There’s Just All These Moving Parts:’ Helping Domestic Violence Survivors Obtain Housing

  • Cris M. Sullivan
  • Gabriela López-Zerón
  • Heather Bomsta
  • Anne Menard
Original Paper


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is one of the most common and devastating forms of violence occurring worldwide. Being victimized by an intimate partner or ex-partner can lead to numerous negative consequences for survivors and their children, including physical and mental health problems as well as housing instability and financial devastation. IPV is a leading cause of homelessness, and helping IPV survivors obtain affordable housing is a growing focus of staff working within domestic violence victim service programs. Unfortunately, in this time of decreasing resources, funders are expecting programs to serve an increasing number of survivors, putting advocates in the precarious position of feeling that they lack the time to provide the effort needed to adequately serve survivors with multiple needs. The purpose of this study was to better understand the complexities involved in helping IPV survivors obtain safe and stable housing, and reflect on the importance of integrating critical reflection, intersectionality, and key principles of social work practice into this important work. In-depth interviews with 11 advocates illustrated how time-consuming and complicated it can be to successfully house IPV survivors. Themes focused on: (1) the need to understand and continually address safety; (2) the need to understand and continually address trauma; (3) the importance of community connections; (4) the time-consuming nature of system factors; and (5) the importance of addressing multiple, interrelated issues and not just housing. Policy implications are discussed.


Domestic violence Housing Social service Advocacy 



This study received support under Grant #90EV0410 to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) from the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (ACF/DHHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of ACF/DHHS.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of Michigan State University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.National Resource Center on Domestic ViolenceHarrisburgUSA
  3. 3.Psychology DepartmentMSUEast LansingUSA

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