Invisible Children in the Society and Its Schools

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11
Living with Violence: Housed and Homeless
Women and Children
Lois Weis, Warren Marcus, and Carrie Freie
State University of New York at Buffalo

In the wake of congressional proposals and subsequent cuts to welfare benefits and food stamps, the once tattered (yet available) public safety net for poor and working-class women and children is fraying even further. As the state reifies private family space, women and children continue to seek refuge in increasingly unavailable safe spaces outside of the male-dominated nuclear family, looking for refuge from personal violation in the form of physical or sexual abuse.

No class or cultural group of women is exempt from family violence.1 Sixty percent of women killed in the United States are killed by a husband or boyfriend, 25% of female psychiatric patients who attempt suicide are victims of family violence, and between 40% (Del Tufo, 1995) and 63% (Browne, 1987) of New York's homeless families are women fleeing abuse in the home. More than 70% of women in the New York State prison system have a history of physical or sexual abuse (New York State Correctional Services, 1996; cited in Fine & Weis, 1998, p. 142).

When discussing family violence, it is tempting to ask, “Why doesn't she just leave?” In fact, women from poor or working classes who experience domestic abuse are just as likely, if not more likely, to endure violence or homi

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1
Family settings include those in which adults and children live together in a parent, guardian, or unrelated adult-supervised arrangement.

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