History of abuse and the experience of homelessness: a framework for assisting women overcome housing instability

Joseph Osuji (Department of Nursing, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada)
Sandra Hirst (Department of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada)

Housing, Care and Support

ISSN: 1460-8790

Publication date: 21 December 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the lived experiences of women without children experiencing housing instability and homelessness in Calgary, Canada; and narratives of what triggered their journeys were constructed according to the tenets of hermeneutic phenomenology, and suggest a framework for assisting these women.

Design/methodology/approach

The design for this study is qualitative, approached through hermeneutic phenomenology rooted in Gadamerian philosophical hermeneutics (Gadamer, 2004). Hermeneutic phenomenology, as a research method has provided insight into understanding phenomena and human experiences that are important to human science professionals.

Findings

The experience of homelessness for women without children started while they still lived at home, but after they lost all sense of “being at home” as a consequence of identifiable negative home experiences, such as abuse. The effects or impacts of stable childhood or adult home experiences and the implications of such in contributing to the feelings of homelessness were pervasive in the stories told by these women.

Practical implications

Access to housing does not mean getting out of the feeling of homelessness, because the trauma that triggers the experience for the clients often last for a life time. Long-term engagement with the client will be synonymous to increasing the possibility that they can be stabilized permanently. Resources dedicated to these clients must be tailored to each client’s needs, with strong agency collaboration with the mainstream systems.

Social implications

Community health nurses and other support workers for individuals experiencing homelessness need to build bridges with inter-professional groups to close the gap created by societal attitudes toward women and domestic abuse survivors through advocacy and education, especially in countries where women are still treated as second class citizens.

Originality/value

Although there has been a considerable amount of research conducted on the determinants of homelessness and housing instabilities in women or their pathways into homelessness, the plight of women without children and their experiences while homeless have received little attention in literature. This study explored the lived experiences of women without children experiencing homelessness and narratives of what triggered their journeys were constructed according to the tenets of hermeneutic phenomenology, and suggest a framework for assisting these women.

Keywords

Citation

Osuji, J. and Hirst, S. (2015), "History of abuse and the experience of homelessness: a framework for assisting women overcome housing instability", Housing, Care and Support, Vol. 18 No. 3/4, pp. 89-100. https://doi.org/10.1108/HCS-03-2015-0004

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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