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Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness among women and children. According to a 1997 survey of ten cities in the United States, 57% of homeless families left their homes due to domestic abuse (ACLU, 2008). One of the reasons that victims of domestic violence constitute a significant portion of the homeless population is the “zero tolerance” or “one-strike” policies of landlords. These policies authorize landlords to evict tenants once violence transpires in their residences, regardless of whether the tenant is responsible for or is the victim of domestic abuse. What is more, the adoption and enforcement of these policies often forces victims of domestic violence to choose between remaining with their abusive partners or homelessness. Some choose the former, but a far greater number choose the latter. Although the United States Congress challenged the culture of victim blaming among landlords with the passage of the 2005 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), this law exclusively regulates the eviction practices of subsidized housing. The purpose of this paper is to explore the legislative origins of victim blaming among landlords, examine the various housing problems that domestic violence victims face, and outline the resources that battered women need in order to avoid homelessness.


A paper submitted Fall 2013 by Sybil Gelin for SO-299 (Special Topics in Sociology) for Professor Gerald F. Reid in the Sociology Department at Sacred Heart University. Honorable Mention for the 2014 Writing Across the Curriculum Prize.

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Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.



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