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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 20, 2010

Those who are homeless are at a much greater risk of being victims of sexual assault. And histories of sexual assault or domestic abuse are some of the many factors that can lead to homelessness. Thus, these two issues are very entwined.

Just last week one woman at Calvary was telling me some of her experiences with these issues.  She had endured years of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her husband. With 3 children to raise, leaving him was a very difficult option, but she stayed strong, and managed to leave the increasingly dangerous situation with her children. However the years of abuse and undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder had taken their toll. She found herself self-medicating with alcohol, and, ultimately, on the streets, homeless, turning to Calvary for help.

This is just one woman’s story, and unfortunately, it is not uncommon. Women come through Calvary’s doors all the time, seeking shelter, safety and support- fleeing a violent relationship. Calvary’s intimate all-female setting definitely helps bring stability and security to those who have past histories of relationship trauma, and the personal case management and therapy women receive also help the sexual assault survivors at Calvary immensely. We also have a very important partnership with the DC Rape Crisis Center, who provides educational presentations at Calvary at least once a month.

Those who are homeless and survivors of sexual assault have to deal with the stress and trauma of their past attacks within a very difficult setting- one of isolation and social alienation, coupled with a lack of access to legal and medical resources. The DC Rape Crisis Center comes to Calvary, as well as other like minded community organizations, to educate women, explaining the complex, entangled relationship between sexual violence and homelessness. Together, we continue to spread the knowledge of safe, healthy relationships and protecting your body while homeless. This increased awareness and education is invaluable. Thank you to the DCRCC for your continued partnership with Calvary and the women we serve.

**To learn more about the DC Rape Crisis Center and their community involvement check out their web page. Also, this is a fascinating article on the high rate of sexual assault on women who are homeless.

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