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Domestic Violence: The Weak Enforcement of Housing Policies to Protect Battered Women

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“What the chief failed to realize, or failed to reveal, was that his department’s own rules presented battered women with a devil’s bargain: keep quiet and face abuse or call the police and face eviction.” – Matthew Desmond

In this HCP Project, I will discuss how abused women are more likely to get evicted from their homes because of the weak enforcement of housing policies. I will examine the failure of both the landlord and police officers’ actions in which they should have protected women from the abuse by not evicting them. In order to do this, I will be analyzing the prevalence of sexual or physical violence in women by an intimate partner and also analyze the actions of landlords and their provisions in which any kind of criminal activity will be the basis for evicting the entire household whether there is an act of violence or nuisance which includes abused women making too much 911 calls. I will also assess the effects of this to the residents and how they struggle to find housing afterwards because of the records of eviction posing a threat of homelessness. Finally, I will examine legislation that’s been proposed about exemptions in nuisance ordinances such as domestic abuse and an example of a woman who faces a dilemma, having to choose between calling the police or holding on to her home.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) in 2015, “About 1 in 4 women, in the U.S. experience contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime” (CDC’s NISVS). This is 24.4 percent of the population in the United States and some of these women are renting in an apartment.

Domestic violence myths mostly include blaming the victim whether victims blame themselves they are in that situation or the society blaming them because of the shame of staying in a toxic relationship. Even if the victims manages to escape, she is still not considered safe because the abuser can still stalk and/or harass the victim. Also, according to Figure 1, the age where women first experience sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner is before the age of 25 having the majority of them during the age of 18 to 24 years. These numbers only represent the young group of women but some experience physical abuse their whole lives or this will be the cause of their death. As reported by the American Psychological Association (APA), “interpersonal violence is the leading cause of female homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy.”

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a federal law that provides services towards investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women and the Department of Health and Human Services have “established…a nationwide domestic violence hotline, so that women throughout the country can call one toll-free number and be connected to a local domestic violence support center” but this one call to a support center or 911 has brought a lot of women to trouble from their landlords because they are risking of getting evicted from their homes. In Chapter 15 of Evicted, titled “A Nuisance” by Matthew Desmond, the author shares the story of Chris and Trisha and how Chris would physically abuse Trisha. Their friend, Crystal would call 911 on Trisha’s behalf and when the officer came, he advised Sherrena, their landlord, to toss them out because when the “nuisance property ordinance was born, [it] allow[ed] police departments to penalize landlords for the behavior of their tenants” (Desmond 190). Instead of responding and helping the victim, police departments and landlords would rather evict their tenants in order to avoid the nuisance. Most property owners allow this to happen because they argue “that these new laws would save money and conserve valuable resources by enabling police departments to direct manpower to high-priority crimes” (Desmond 191). Although laws and policies consider these actions as breaking the law, some still continue to do this because they do not want to deal with the nuisance of domestic violence. Because of the carelessness actions of both the landlord and police departments, women are more likely to be discouraged to escape from the brutal situation because they feel they are not protected by the government.

Domestic violence is considered the leading factor of housing instability for women and their children because some women do not have the financial needs to live independently thus narrows the availability of affordable housing. Another aspect that women can face housing instability is because there is housing discrimination towards them as being survivors of domestic violence. Because domestic violence survivors were under their intimate partner in terms of financial needs, they do not have a history of credit or their

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Domestic Violence: The Weak Enforcement of Housing Policies to Protect Battered Women. (2019, March 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 27, 2021, from
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