Antecedents of Physical and Sexual Victimization Among Homeless Women

A Comparison to Homeless Men

Published in: American Journal of Community Psychology, v. 28, no. 3, June 2000, p. 367-390

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2000

by Suzanne L. Wenzel, Paul Koegel, Lillian Gelberg

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Homeless women experience extensive health risks including physical and sexual victimization. Few studies that have gathered information on homeless persons have reported results separately for women or have compared them directly with men. Research that both investigates antecedents of victimization among homeless women and compares them to those for men is necessary to determine whether prevention efforts must be different for each group. The authors investigated potential antecedents of recent (past 30 days) physical and sexual victimization in a probability sample of 394 homeless women and compared findings to those for 1159 homeless men. As hypothesized, mental disorder, substance dependence, and engaging in economic survival strategies significantly predicted victimization among homeless women. With few dissimilarities, these characteristics also predicted victimization among homeless men. Although differences in the needs and experiences of homeless women and men must be recognized, both women and men require assistance to establish and maintain safe residences, treatment of any substance use and mental disorder, and alternatives to economic survival strategies that place them at risk for victimization.

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