Homeless Sexual Assault Survivors Need a Home

A Home Provided a Homeless Women Sexual Assault Survivor a Place to Call Home and Opportunity Rebuild Her Life

In an October 26, 2018 essay in The Washington Post, Lori Yearwood writes, “Homeless women are the sexual assault survivors no one talks about. Here’s my story.

“Never before have I so profoundly appreciated such simple things as going to lunch with a friend or doing laundry in a washing machine,” writs Yearwood. “Or the softness of a real bed, next to a picture window that I can keep open without fear of violence.”

In her personal essay chronicling her two years of being homeless in the Salt Lake City, Utah area and facing risk of homelessness, Yearwood writes about the parts of daily life including having a private place to shower or bathe and having a home with windows providing views to the outside world that so many of us take for granted.

While she was homeless, Yearwood repeatedly experienced violent sexual assault and suffered deeply from the trauma that the assault caused. He story is one of abuse and cycling in out of shelters, psychiatric hospitals, jail, and living outside.

Yearwood is college educated and had the support of her family before she experienced homelessness, a career as a writer. It has been over two years since Yearwood was homeless, she now has her own apartment, and is working once a grain a writer.

“Today, 23 months since I emerged from homelessness and began restoring my life, I am uniquely able and eager to tell the story of how I got there and how I managed to get out. It’s a story about a devastating collapse that often occurs before homelessness, and the particular brutality of life as a homeless woman.”

Now that she is once again writing and working, Yearwood asked her mentor, Shannon Miller Cox, why she thought Yearwood has been able to successfully break the cycle of homelessness and abuse as well as survive sexual assault.

Responded Miller Cox, “You were more fortunate than many homeless people. You had been successful before and you were able to tap into that well of strengths, she said. But why now, I persisted, when for nearly two years I couldn’t access those strengths?

She looked at me intently, as though I should have known already.

“That’s simple,” she told me. “You have a home.”

Miller Cox’s response to Yearwood reminds us that the key to ending homelessness is a safe, secure home to call one’s own. Yearwood now has her own website where she shares her experience of being homeless and surviving sexual assault, her writing samples and her journey out of homelessness.

Washington Post

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