Homeless women find sexual violence part of life on the street


Abuse erodes women’s self-esteem and leaves them more vulnerable to exploitation if they manage to run away and end up homeless, said Judith Benitez, deputy director for transitional housing at the network, based in Washington, D.C.

“It’s like a carousel,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what horse you get on, you’ll end up going over the same ground over and over again.”

Ms. Goode tries to avoid consistently “sleeping rough,” which means sleeping outside without any physical protection, by staying with people she knows for short periods of time. She is one of the many people Mr. Gloss believes the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development doesn’t include during its annual count of the homeless on a single night in January.

He added that those who are less visible — typically women — have good reason to stay hidden.

Sexual assault can happen to women experiencing homelessness at any time of the day or night, in shelters, in homeless camps, in public, in private and by both men and women, said Evelyn Rosemary Akers, who declined to give her age. Formerly of the North Side, she said she became homeless in 2012.

“It’s about as common as the everyday cold,” she said.