16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence kicks off today on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the theme this year is “Leave No One Behind”.
Women are twice as likely to be victims of family violence, and young women living on the streets are at a higher risk of criminal victimization and violence. We come across stories all the time about their experiences of gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence and sexual assault. We cannot afford to leave these young women behind. Yet youth homelessness is often hidden and important measures against violence, such as Ontario’s Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Harassment, doesn’t address the unique and specific violence homeless young women face.
We need resources that will reduce violence faced by homeless youth and address the precarious housing many survivors of violence experience. Otherwise, we run the risk of re-victimizing young women who became homeless by trying to escape violence in the first place.
Leaving unsafe situations is difficult enough. On top of that, statistics show that women are most at risk of murder when they attempt to leave. How can we hope to encourage victims of domestic abuse to leave unsafe situations when there aren’t enough supports for them afterwards? Or when it’s so likely that they’ll experience the same violence on the streets?
On any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters because it isn’t safe at home. Due to the increased level of dangers of living on the streets, the risks of leaving a violent home, and the likeliness of being turned away if a shelter is full, women may be more likely to stay in dangerous living situations.
Over the next 16 days, tell us what you think needs to change to support young women experiencing violence and/or homelessness.
Safe shelter is only the first step. Services and resources are needed to continue the journey to housing for life. This can include mental health support, reconnecting to loved ones, affordable housing, education advancement, and employment skills development.
This is why wrap around support for youth residents at Eva’s is an important part of our work.
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