The literature on the contemporary homeless population is reviewed to examine the association of victimization with homelessness. Although few studies have specifically focused on victimization, findings derived from studies investigating pathways to homelessness, prevalence of health, mental health, and substance-use disorders, and demographic profiles and life histories suggest that victimization both causes homelessness and is an outcome of losing housing. Causal sequences ending in homelessness most frequently involve domestic violence, which mainly affects women, although other types of abuse may extrude individuals from their established housing. Once they become homeless, the risk of violence escalates for people living on the streets and in shelters. Perhaps the most unsettling findings from the research involve high rates of antecedent events, particularly abuse of children and disruption of families of origin, that appear to predispose individuals to homelessness. These data suggest that victimization is deeply rooted with long-lasting demoralizing consequences that burden affected individuals with excess prevalence of mental illness and related socially dysfunctional behavior that entrenches people in homelessness and may perpetuate patterns of abuse across generations. There is a crying need for early detection and targeted treatment to effect rehabilitation.



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