Why Did They Stay So Long?

Part 1. Housing.

“Why did they stay so long?” Part 1. 

It is a question we have all asked, if at the least in our own minds when hearing someone’s experience of intimate partner violence. And it is a question that invokes feelings of guilt in many survivors placing the blame on them in part for enduring the abuse so long. 

The reality, however, is that most individuals are trapped in their current living situations even without the added stress of IPV. The lack of housing stock coupled with the rising cost of rent and with increasing mortgage rates makes finding new housing a challenge. And finding new housing with short notice, impossible. 

So why did they stay so long? One simple answer is nowhere else to go. Without the support of friends or family, many of us would have nowhere to flee to if our homes became unsafe. We would be left to endure for months, even years before we could secure new housing. HUD studies found that among the larger housing agencies the wait time for housing can be between 2-8 years, with the wait in Vermont averaging 26 months.“ Furthermore, on average nationally, families that received vouchers had spent close to two and a half years on waitlists first, exposing many to homelessness, overcrowding, eviction, and other hardship while they wait.(acosta & garland). 

Locally,  we know all too well that securing a housing voucher does not guarantee housing. Once a mobile voucher is secure the quest is on to find an apartment that meets the voucher’s requirements and has a landlord who will accept your application. Many survivors of IPV leave with tarnished credit, criminal records and have little to no savings. On paper, they do not look like the ideal rental candidates. Often survivors’ vouchers expire before they can find an apartment to use them for. 

This is why emergency shelters and transitional housing programs are essential in the work we to combat intimate partner violence. Emergency shelters mean that survivors do not need to “stay so long”, they have a place to flee to in the moment. Transitional housing allows survivors independence and a chance to build a rental history and savings after emergency housing has ended. However, these programs often have limited bed spaces and a struggle to maintain funding. 

The National Network to End Domestic Violence cites domestic violence as the leading cause of homelessness among women. Access to safe housing paves the way to freedom for survivors. PAVE currently operates a 5 bedroom emergency shelter and is partnering with local housing providers to operate an effective Transitional Housing program. To help support this work please donate via this link. https://pavebennington.networkforgood.com/projects/100932-main-giving-page.


Acosta, Sony & Gartland, Erik. “ Families Wait Years for Housing Vouchers Due to Inadequate Funding”. July 2021. Center on Budget & Policy. Cbpp.org
 National Network to End Domestic Violence. “ The Impact of Safe Housing on Survivors on Domestic Violence” 2017. nnedv.org/